That is *not* Harley Quinn. Harley Quinn wears clothes.
January 15, 2015 1:21 AM   Subscribe

What Taking My Daughter to a Comic Book Store Taught Me “All their…” …and her voice dropped to a whisper… “boobies are hanging out, Dad."
posted by young_son (224 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
 
Welcome to the background radiation of my life

This webcomic about sums it up.
posted by Faintdreams at 1:35 AM on January 15, 2015 [69 favorites]


It's a nicely written piece, and I'm glad he gets it. Everyone needs reminders, and insight, and empathy.

But... I find it interesting (and a little depressing) that he falls back so quickly on the standard male tropes of controlling female sexuality as part of his reaction ("Look her in her room until menopause". "If she starts dressing like that, then...").
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 1:44 AM on January 15, 2015 [87 favorites]


This must be an odd comics shop, without Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, MLP or Adventure Time comics or even shoujo manga (Card Captor Sakura has some... CLAMPy oddities, but Sailormoon? Magic Knights Rayearth? Anyone?).
posted by sukeban at 1:52 AM on January 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


We get this a ton. My nine-year-old daughter watches Justice League and Ben Ten and Ultimate Spider-Man. None of them have females in lead roles, but they're there and they're identifiably the superheroes she enjoys.

We also go to a lot of comic book stores. And she chooses her own comics: Bone, The Simpsons. Most of the superhero stuff is too dark, and too violent (she loves Batman but apart from the Batmite comics, they're seriously not kid-friendly). I just grabbed the books from her bedside table and they are Batman: The Court of Owls (which actually shouldn't be there; sneaky child); Simpsons Belly Buster; Hawkeye: LA Woman (about Kate Bishop, and surprisingly OK for kids); and Young Avengers Style > Substance.

Young Avengers is pretty good. It has great female representation, and the clothing is practical and not provocatively revealing. The Hawkeye one is fine for a kid who's been reading comics since she was five, but not a first-entry comic.

When we go to comic stores I let the kids browse independently, and then we look together at what they've picked out. My daughter generally has a good sense for what's appropriate and thinks out loud about which ones have girls or women and which don't. Then we flick through and look at the art and I scope out how dark or violent it's likely to be.

She would like to see the superheroes from her TV shows in comic-book form though, and that's just not there right now.
posted by tracicle at 1:55 AM on January 15, 2015 [19 favorites]


That’s what the man who runs a comic book store with a seven year old daughter had to offer…Hello Kitty…and Monster High.

"Man" bolded for emphasis, here. I go an hour's drive in traffic out of my way to shop at the comic store in my city that's co-owned by a woman. They have a fantastic selection and specially curated low shelves for younger kids of every gender. (And when I enter the shop I've got the "LGTBA & Related" shelf right in front of my face.) There are other stores that have a good selection and I'm in a very geeky city so there's much less stigma, but this one in particular makes me feel included and accepted so much more than the other ones I've tried out. Is it because of the woman who runs the place? I'm not privy to the way it's run enough to know for certain, but her presence is absolutely what draws me back.

On preview, sukeban listed some great titles. Ms. Marvel is doing great things right now, Adventure Time comics has issues dedicated entirely to female characters doing magical science things. I really think it's down to this guy's selection of local. And I suppose considering all the awful shops I've patronized before I found the few I felt welcomed in, there's a market for the awful stereotypes. I'm glad this father got some perspective but I think also that there are a lot of interesting and great things happening in comics right now that should be celebrated, along with the unequal objectification being derided.
posted by Mizu at 1:57 AM on January 15, 2015 [24 favorites]


She would like to see the superheroes from her TV shows in comic-book form though, and that's just not there right now.

And this is the second Shortpacked! strip linked in this thread.
posted by sukeban at 1:58 AM on January 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


My nine-year-old daughter watches Justice League and Ben Ten and Ultimate Spider-Man. None of them have females in lead roles,

Gwen Ten is a very tough little girl when it counts.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:03 AM on January 15, 2015


oh hooray another man who is only finally able to understand feminism after having a daughter is coming to explain how terrible everything is to us. nerd culture edition!!!!

I mean, I guess I'm glad that these pieces exist because asshole misogynistic nerd men are a lot more likely to listen to other men than women, but "I finally understand a minuscule part of the effect that objectification and sexualization can have after having it explained to me by my seven-year-old daughter" is just kind of depressing. it seems like if he'd ever listened to the complaints women in the nerd community have been making about comic books constantly for decades, this would not have shocked him, and he wouldn't have to be getting remedial feminism courses from a child.

he might've even been prepared and gone to a comic book store that isn't 100% shitty and might at least have a manga section, some Young Avengers trades, the current run of Ms. Marvel, maybe some of the more kid-friendly X-Men titles?
posted by NoraReed at 2:37 AM on January 15, 2015 [228 favorites]


Gwen Ten is a very tough little girl when it counts.

She sure is! But she's not the lead. She could have her own TV show. And we should have a Wonder Woman movie, but that's a whole 'nother thing.
posted by tracicle at 2:41 AM on January 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


oh hooray another man who is only finally able to understand feminism after having a daughter is coming to explain how terrible everything is to us. nerd culture edition!!!!

yeah, fuck that guy.
posted by logicpunk at 2:53 AM on January 15, 2015 [21 favorites]


Wow NoraReed, I feel like that's a really uncharitable reading of the piece. I think the guy was very humble about the fact that he thought he got it and realising that no, he actually doesn't. He literally says that he will never fully understand but all he's trying to do is share a moment of learning for himself. Sheesh.
posted by like_neon at 2:58 AM on January 15, 2015 [46 favorites]


I think women (despite being adressed)are not the audience for this piece. It might get some men thinking. But knowing about issues is not the same thing as experiencing them as he did, through his daughter. So that piece has its usefulness, but it's just one man's personal experience and I don't think we should expect a general breakthrough from it.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:12 AM on January 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


To be honest, I had the same response as NoraReed; not helped by the article having so many pictures of what he was objecting to.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:26 AM on January 15, 2015 [24 favorites]


I didn't really feel like it was "I now understand feminism because I have a daughter!" It was more of "I thought I understood things were hard for women but now I realize I had no idea." I often don't think men realized how often women and girls are dismissed ("Here, be happy with these little scraps of things we give you and go away.") and I tend to think it's a good thing when they do.

And yeah, that store sucks. Or the employee sucks. I'm not sure which. But either way, that was a bad experience and makes retailers look bad.

And while it's true there aren't a lot of mainstream (DC/Marvel) comics that are that appropriate for 7-year-old girls (I don't know I'd give Ms. Marvel to a 7-year-old. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, yeah, but that just started), there are books like the Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke and the Hilda books by Luke Pearson.

Since he's based in Detroit, I recommended he takes both his kids to Kids Read Comics in Ann Arbor this summer.
posted by darksong at 3:32 AM on January 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


I didn't really feel like it was "I now understand feminism because I have a daughter!" It was more of "I thought I understood things were hard for women but now I realize I had no idea."

He says that, but then it gets to the whole "locking her in her bedroom" snarking-but-not controlling dad tropes stuff and my eyes started rolling at 7200rpm.

it's really hard to not read this as well, the stuff nora reed said, when you get those gross quotes stuck in your craw. i read what he had to say, but it fell pretty damn flat for me. this is a real problem, but his conclusions and interpretation are not amazing or totally awesome.
posted by emptythought at 4:26 AM on January 15, 2015 [18 favorites]


It is tough to find kid-friendly titles that aren't complete milquetoast crap. Adventure Time is my 9-year-old's go-to title, but I would like to help her broaden her horizons. She devoured "Smile" and "Sisters", a couple of Scholastic graphic novels. It's funny, she has this fantastic imagination but really loves to read about more real-life, relatable things.
posted by Mister_A at 4:28 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


And while it's true there aren't a lot of mainstream (DC/Marvel) comics that are that appropriate for 7-year-old girls ... there are books like the Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke and the Hilda books by Luke Pearson.

I bought Zita for my 7-year-old son. Sure, my daughter might read it too by the time she's seven, if she likes comics. I don't want him growing up with a head full of sexist tropes any more than her.

We are fortunate in the UK to have The Phoenix, which is perfect for 7-year-olds of any gender.
posted by rory at 4:37 AM on January 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


To be honest, I had the same response as NoraReed; not helped by the article having so many pictures of what he was objecting to.

He says that, but then it gets to the whole "locking her in her bedroom" snarking-but-not controlling dad tropes stuff and my eyes started rolling at 7200rpm.


Like image #4, the one with Power Girl asking if her boobs are too big with the caption "As a dude, no...as a dad, though..." If you're going to make a piece all about how women are objectified, or how physical aspects override their power and independence, then setting up double standards and talking about your daughter as if she was your property severely undercut your point.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:42 AM on January 15, 2015 [86 favorites]


I agree with NoraReed AND LikeNeon. I'm feeling charitable today, so I'm going to file this under "two steps forward, one step back" rather than the other way around.
posted by sexyrobot at 4:52 AM on January 15, 2015 [24 favorites]


It would be interesting to know if the author had sisters growing up. Otherwise, this is probably his first experience with the development of a female, so yeah, a lot of the things he might have known conceptually are thrust into harsh reality. The trip to the comicbook store is his tipping point that's making him seriously reconsider some of the foundations he's grown accustom to ("the comic books store is an okay place to take my kid" and even "boob windows are okay") because he's seeing it through the eyes of his daughter. Would he have had the same revelation if he grew up with sisters trying to find decent comics at the shop?

My kid is 4 and I've already plotted most of the comics he'll be able to read as he grows up. I wouldn't give a 7 year old a handful of recent Batman titles - that's too young for stories based around faces being cut off. But I have no problem hoarding a bunch of Brave and the Bold comics based on the recent cartoon. Those will lead into the DC Animated spinoff comics and from there various Showcases.

Also, to be That Guy, several of those images were taken from a google search. Many of them, including the Power Girl boobs one, are fan creations. That he went out and searched for them I think points to him going through a "Everything I knew is wrong!" revelation. He's on the first step of a journey and I don't see much reason to slag him for it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:54 AM on January 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


I definitely think some of the criticism of his attitude are fair, absolutely (especially with the locking-in-the-room stuff). I can understand some of where he's coming from with that (and it may be an unfortunate concession to his audience, since this is more of an IT blog), but it does take away from his original message, sadly.

The Phoenix is available in the U.S. on the iPad and yes, it's so good. My local store was the only place in the U.S. carrying it for a while (I'm not sure if they still are -- I think they still have issues around).
posted by darksong at 4:55 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


As a dude, no...as a dad, though...
I read this more charitably, where he's not setting up a double-standard, but rather acknowledging that there's a "hetero-male privilege" thing going on. i see him as trying to say, when I wasn't aware of these issues (i.e. "a dude"), i didn't really think about these images more than them being created for my enjoyment; now that my mind has evolved as a result of being "a dad", I see these images as being problematic.

heck replace "being a dad" with "reading metafilter for 7.5 years" and you've got my life

as for the "locking up in her room" - i think this was an attempt at humour, and that's it. it's one of those stupid jokes that you make when you are making stupid small talk, but I would hope that all of people who make this joke don't actually mean it.

he's spending time with his daughter, taking her to places she wants to go. sadly, he's probably doing a lot more with her compared to a lot of parents out there. I think they'll both turn out all right.

he's learning, he admits he needs to learn, and I guess I want to say that maybe we can hold off on all these comments and eye-rolls about how he still doesn't get it
posted by bitteroldman at 4:59 AM on January 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


The ad inserted at the bottom of that link is all about the irony.

Sweet, unintended irony.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:00 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, doesn't this seem like a great moment to turn to your son in the next aisle and realize the huge responsibility you have to change his perspective and awareness? If you truly get it, then he should play a huge role in this tale, rather than be set aside right at the beginning.
posted by thejoshu at 5:08 AM on January 15, 2015 [35 favorites]


it's one of those stupid jokes that you make when you are making stupid small talk

Someone literally made that same joke to me yesterday, in the middle of bragging about their granddaughter. I read it as an awkward way of expressing discomfort but also acknowledging the discomfort and that in fact treating the girl as property is not an option. It's not a joke I find incredibly funny, but a lot of times it would be a mistake to take it at face value, either.

So yes, two steps forward, one step back.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:14 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's a perfect European solution to this problem.

Asterix and Tintin.
posted by Bwithh at 5:25 AM on January 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


Yeah, Asterix *never* encouraged and reinforced objectification and minimization of women. It also never reflected the casual racism of the time.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:30 AM on January 15, 2015 [28 favorites]


...coming to explain how terrible everything is to us.

While the link got posted here, honestly, the uncommonly well-informed people here are not really the intended audience. As much as the piece is Feminism 101 stuff and still includes problematic elements, our side needs all the voices it can get, including the imperfect ones. The article was posted with good intentions and in good faith, and that needs to count for something. You acknowledge as much:

I mean, I guess I'm glad that these pieces exist because asshole misogynistic nerd men are a lot more likely to listen to other men than women [...] just kind of depressing.

True on both counts. Depressing, but still a drop in the right bucket.

In general, confronting nascent allies for the crime of not being Unicorn Allies is a horrible tactical move, and all too common, especially on Twitter. I speak of tactics, because as far as I'm concerned, we're in a war. (I say "in general", because commenting here, angry or not, doesn't count as a direct confrontation, so this is not directed at NoraReed or anyone else here.)

Being angry is fine, everyone is entitled to it, but piling on well-meaning transgressors is a bad move if you want to change thinking for the better rather than create new enemies. People don't learn from being shouted at. The Laurie Penny approach is the best one, saint-like patience though it may require. If you (again, the general "you") can't manage that level of patience, well, I won't tone police you but think twice before engaging and at least be aware of the consequences.
posted by jklaiho at 5:33 AM on January 15, 2015 [19 favorites]


I am a massively judgemental person. So judgey, right here. Need some judging done? Cause I got you some judging.

Preamble out of the way. So, that guy. That. Guy. I do not want to be friends with that guy. I am so certain that I don't want to be friends with that guy. I'm absolutely certain that I'd find him to be at turns offensive and dull. At best, I'm guessing (judge judge judge) that the most he could ever offer in a conversation are his thoughts about like Linux or whatever.1

If I put something like that dumb Power Girl image macro in an article, I'd probably die of shame. The thing about it isn't just that it's awful, it's that it's awful in such a boring way, it's such a rote performance of an adolescent idea of masculinity.

So you know my thoughts on the whole about this guy are not good. And I really don't think I want to applaud his masterful success in going all the way from only actually considering men and boys as authentic subjects rather than objects to only considering men and boys and his own daughter as authentic subjects rather than objects.2

I'm so glad I don't know him in person. I'd have to talk to him. And here's the shit of it: I'd feel obligated to try to help him get toward something actually like feminism. Because, well, the wee little baby step he's made here might be a good sign, provided he's smart enough to see that it's just a wee little baby step and that he's still oh god so part of the problem. It's just on the whole I'm really, really bad at treating people who have bad politics and who are just starting to understand that their politics are bad as members of the ten thousand rather than as blinkered hopeless idiots, even though treating them as members of the ten thousand is, well, probably the more reliable way to actually get them to be better.

[1]: Sometimes peoples' thoughts on Linux are interesting! Really!
[2]: Well, so long as she's tiny and totally asexual. At such point as she's no longer tiny and totally asexual, she'll be an object that has to be confined in a room.

posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:37 AM on January 15, 2015 [19 favorites]


oh hooray another man who is only finally able to understand feminism after having a daughter is coming to explain how terrible everything is to us. nerd culture edition!!!!

This. It's super depressing.
posted by odinsdream at 5:53 AM on January 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


> I go an hour's drive in traffic out of my way to shop at the comic store in my city that's co-owned by a woman

Which store, since I live in the city next to yours? My eight- and nine-year-old Girl Scouts are going to be working on their Comics badge, which involves a trip to a comic book store, and that one sounds great.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:11 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


For watching, there's always Avatar and Legend of Korra. In my opinion those are two of the best anime series ever made for any age, and there are strong and central female characters in both (and the main character in the second is a bad-ass teenage girl). Also best fight scenes ever! Good family watching.

I looked back recently at some of the comics I had as a teen and geez ... it's embarrassing. Most of the covers scream "never been laid and I find this titillating". I didn't even realize it then.
posted by freecellwizard at 6:16 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


> this is probably his first experience with the development of a female, so yeah

We don't grow in labs, you know. Surely he had -- and has -- friends who are girls and women.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:17 AM on January 15, 2015 [27 favorites]


We don't grow in labs, you know. Surely he had -- and has -- friends who are girls and women.

...who he has probably Othered the hell out of while growing up. I have a male friend with a 1 year-old daughter, and I'm very interested in seeing if his occasionally backwards, patriarchal attitudes are shaken up in a way that observing girls and women up to this point has not achieved.
posted by jklaiho at 6:20 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh, sure. "Directly involved with the development" then.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:20 AM on January 15, 2015


"You, too, will care about women's issues when you create a tiny woman that you can't sexually objectify, but only to the extent that they assist you in protecting her from sexual objectification by men who don't care about women's issues because they haven't made a tiny woman."
posted by almostmanda at 6:22 AM on January 15, 2015 [68 favorites]


Which store, since I live in the city next to yours?

I realize that I was remiss in not shilling for them, honestly. I speak of Comics Dungeon in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. (Parking will be difficult! Plan ahead!) Don't let the name put you off. There's an accordion store next door, which is fun to look into the windows at. Their About page has a little promo video where they talk about their ever-expanding kids section. The excellent woman is Lainie Tomlin. She makes me feel super safe.
posted by Mizu at 6:25 AM on January 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


Oh, sure. "Directly involved with the development" then.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:20 AM on 1/15
[+] [!]


Yeah but you should not have to be directly involved with the development of a girl in order to view them as %100 human, and not some fraction* as property or another species. Like, why do you have to have a personal stake in it to get to that point?

*the fraction varies person to person, obviously. But these articles are depressing in that they illustrate that even for the most well-meaning types, its rarely zero.
posted by FirstMateKate at 6:27 AM on January 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


> I speak of Comics Dungeon in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle

Wow! Check out that page for hardcore lady types! Sold.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:30 AM on January 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


Monster High tho, that shit is almost enough to make me believe there really are Illuminati deliberately poisoning civilization. Not sure whether I'm more outraged as a parent or as a horror fan.
posted by fleetmouse at 6:30 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have honestly never left that store without spending twice what I told myself I would spend, so sold indeed.
posted by Mizu at 6:32 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah but you should not have to be directly involved with the development of a girl in order to view them as %100 human, and not some fraction* as property or another species.

I totally agree - it just seems like some people rarely think outside the bubble of their own experience. Hopefully at some point that bubble pops and in this case it took a guy raising a daughter who is more aware than he is. He has a lot of ground to catch up on.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:33 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am probably the last and oldest lesbian on earth to fall for "Xena, Warrior Princess." I heartily recommend Xena's adventures with her beloved Gabrielle for everyone. There's Greek mythology, believable armor, and lots of fun.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:35 AM on January 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm a sort of old person and my comics [now graphic novels] were an occasional Richie Rich because we weren't wealthy. I didn't want superpowers so much as to be able to buy things. I still don't follow graphic novels [a term for indie right?] but a cursory look shows that most mainstream comic book characters have unbelievable wealth, athletic abilities, and being a heroine or hero is their prime purpose. I'm ignorant to the form is what I'm trying to say. I never knew so many people were interested in the form until the internet brought it to my attention - though I've heard of Maus.

Are there any comics or graphic novels that feature the pizza delivery people?
posted by vapidave at 6:37 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


"I finally understand a minuscule part of the effect that objectification and sexualization can have after having it explained to me by my seven-year-old daughter" is just kind of depressing. it seems like if he'd ever listened to the complaints women in the nerd community have been making about comic books constantly for decades, this would not have shocked him, and he wouldn't have to be getting remedial feminism courses from a child.

In this guy's defense, he may have been listening to the criticisms about comic book sexism for decades, but it's possible he only understood it intellectually at that point. It's only after becoming the father to a seven-year-old that he understands it viscerally. Not to go all Zen here, but it's possible to understand and yet not understand.
posted by jonp72 at 6:37 AM on January 15, 2015 [17 favorites]


My daughter is crazed for the Joss Whedon 'Agents of Shield' show but the comics don't seem to interest her. Does anyone have any recommendations for a comic book that she might like?
posted by colie at 6:41 AM on January 15, 2015


I'm torn as well. I mean, yay for him that he realizes that "oh shit, the way women in comics are portrayed is fucked and hey wait, I am raising a girl who will be a woman one day and ding there's my lightbulb" but it's also sad he falls right back on the hoary dad trope of keeping her locked up when she starts to attract boys. (Yes, I know he will not actually do this.)

I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that this is one step closer to understanding how pernicious and gross sexism/misogyny is in any aspect of life, but will long even harder for the day when articles by men finally understanding that all women have a shitty time of it (not just your mom/daughter/sister) by having a girl child will no longer need to be written.
posted by Kitteh at 6:42 AM on January 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


My daughter is crazed for the Joss Whedon 'Agents of Shield' show but the comics don't seem to interest her. Does anyone have any recommendations for a comic book that she might like?

You didn't specify how old your daughter is, but check out these titles. And as always, look at them yourself and decide if she's old enough to handle the content.

Ms. Marvel
Captain Marvel
She-Hulk
Saga (once she's older)
Red Sonja (once she's older)
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
Lumberjanes
I Kill Giants
Princeless
BONE
posted by Fizz at 6:53 AM on January 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


Since it hasn't been mentioned, the Nausicaa manga would also be great (though I really can't say what age it's appropriate for - still trying to figure out when I can introduce it to my son).
posted by kokaku at 6:55 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


[A couple of comments removed. We're kind of way down the rabbit hole here IMO in terms of sarcasm responding to sarcasm responding to... etc. I feel I have to draw the line somewhere. Sorry to be a bother here, feel absolutely free to repost without adding to the irony soup, thanks.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:58 AM on January 15, 2015


I recently reread Nausicaa, oh my gosh it was fantastic, and I can see how finding the appropriate age would be really difficult. I don't have kids myself but I was thinking about a friend's new child when I read them and I think that if a kid can watch the part of Star Wars with the tauntaun and understand that it's a dead animal that's being used for survival in a gory way, and not just "wheee fun adventure!" but "that was a violent act to save a life", I think they might be okay for Nausicaa, with maybe some discussion about politics if needed, and of course they also have to think bugs are cool.
posted by Mizu at 7:01 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Thanks for the tips guys)
posted by colie at 7:02 AM on January 15, 2015


In this guy's defense, he may have been listening to the criticisms about comic book sexism for decades, but it's possible he only understood it intellectually at that point. It's only after becoming the father to a seven-year-old that he understands it viscerally. Not to go all Zen here, but it's possible to understand and yet not understand.

THAT THAT THAT THAT THAT.

Years ago, the first time my Irish friend visited this country, she insisted - with great force - that one of the things we do was visit a synagogue. "We can, sure," I said, "but....why?"

"Because I've never seen one," she said. "And, it's one thing to just stand in your own garden and look over the fence into your neighbor's garden, but that's NOTHING like actually getting into your neighbor's garden and looking around from inside." To have a REALLY full appreciation and understanding of something, sometimes you have to look at it from a visceral, first-hand perspective. Intellectual understanding can only get you so far sometimes.

And sometimes you don't know that you don't know something as well as you thought you did, until something comes along to prove it to you. This piece was an account of a guy who intellectually knew what was problematic about women in comics, but didn't know that his understanding was only intellectual.

But now he DOES know. So rather than shunning him for not knowing prior to this that he didn't know something, let's help him TO know, now that he knows he doesn't know. That's what you're supposed to do.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:12 AM on January 15, 2015 [35 favorites]


Since he's based in Detroit, I recommended he takes both his kids to Kids Read Comics in Ann Arbor this summer.>

I would also suggest he visit the lovely and amazing family-owned Vault of Midnight in Ann Arbor. The staff (mostly the owners and their children) are really good at identifying comics that actually fit one's preferences - for example, they've never suggested I read manga when I come in looking for The Goon. They also have pretty good all ages selection, lots of toys and games, tons of back issues in the basement, and separate small press and local artists sections.

I've also heard good things about Detroit Comics in Ferndale and Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, but I've never been.

The point is, there are better comics stores that provide better experiences for readers outside of the stereotypical comics base. The Android's Dungeon is not the only option!
posted by palindromic at 7:12 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


My daughter is crazed for the Joss Whedon 'Agents of Shield' show but the comics don't seem to interest her. Does anyone have any recommendations for a comic book that she might like?

Nimona is currently being printed, I think. Meanwhile there's the web version.
posted by sukeban at 7:14 AM on January 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


I wish comics shops had more of an emphasis on other genres and had gentle introduction sections for both kids and those new to comics as well as more female-positive collections. I don't go to comics shops very often (they're few and far between) but it feels like the ones I have been in are like 75% superhero stuff with these kinds of depictions of women that even as I kid I shyed away from because the covers seem weird and aggressive and gross.

I know the economics of comic stores is kind of terrible and it's tough to make a buck in the business, but I do wonder if a shop could be supported by being more inclusive than catering to the average mainstream dude-centric superhero stuff.
posted by mathowie at 7:15 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's a long way off yet, but Free Comic Book Day is super kid-friendly, with free comics especially for them, and takes place in most English-speaking countries. It's a good chance to get kids started, where they can pick from a range (or take them all) and find what they enjoy.
posted by tracicle at 7:17 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's unreasonable or unfair for me to be frustrated that someone has to literally create another human being to make them aware of my basic humanity. Am I supposed to be grateful?
posted by almostmanda at 7:17 AM on January 15, 2015 [37 favorites]


I don't think I am the only woman of my generation (getting near 50 now!) who grew up reading books and watching TV where nearly all the interesting protagonists were boys. This meant that starting very early on, if I wanted to "see" myself in what I was reading and watching, I "became" a boy. Boys were not "other," in that sense - if I played a boy character in after-school and recess lets-pretend games with my friends, then boys were human like me because I was human and I was a "boy" if I wanted to have fun (imaginary) adventures.

No boys in our friend group in elementary school would have been caught dead playing a girl character. They didn't read books with female protagonists unless they had to for school.

I think this makes a huge difference for a lot of us as we grow up and become adults. I've had decades and decades of practice of looking at the world through some sort of male lens - a male, human lens. I don't know how many men and boys (of any generation) have that experience.
posted by rtha at 7:19 AM on January 15, 2015 [56 favorites]


I would have thought Bone was totally appropriate for kids, but I've only read the first two volumes.

In Toronto, we have a store called Little Island Comics which is entirely dedicated to graphic novels and comics for children. Poking around their website will bring up all sorts of good titles.

-----

Back to the FPP: the boobies are reasons 1 and 2 why I had no interest in comics as a deeply nerdy (Trekkie even!) teen. The butt shots and spandex would be reasons 3 and 4, and lack of interesting female characters reasons 5 to 100.

Then I started reading Sandman and Bone, and then V for Vendetta, Watchmen and Maus - and I loved them. But I still sometimes feel weird that I've read a bunch of the critically acclaimed graphic novels but still have yet to read any mainstream DC/Marvel super hero titles. (I don't think Gaimen & McKean's Black Orchid or Moore's Swamp Thing counts - or Y: The Last Man which is utterly brilliant but not exactly typical DC gender relations -- and I really need to read Saga).
posted by jb at 7:19 AM on January 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


I know the economics of comic stores is kind of terrible and it's tough to make a buck in the business, but I do wonder if a shop could be supported by being more inclusive than catering to the average mainstream dude-centric superhero stuff.

While I support local shopping. I would say that shopping on-line is also a resource and while it cuts out the local comic book store owner, it is a way to shop without a glut of the stuff you'd rather not wade through.*

*I realize that this also takes away some of the wonder of walking through a comic book store, but still, there are other options for the shopper who wants choice or convenience. And there are tons of comics available for the iPad, tablet, etc.
posted by Fizz at 7:21 AM on January 15, 2015


I don't think it's unreasonable or unfair for me to be frustrated that someone has to literally create another human being to make them aware of my basic humanity.

I'm actually not seeing that he was unaware of our humanity in the first place, only that he was unaware of the degree of the problem.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:24 AM on January 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


My daughter is crazed for the Joss Whedon 'Agents of Shield' show but the comics don't seem to interest her. Does anyone have any recommendations for a comic book that she might like?

No comics recs but maybe she will like the new Agent Carter show.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:29 AM on January 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


we know men don't look at life through the eyes of women, we know that men who have daughters tend to become more accepting of feminism, we know if we're anything less than 100% nice and complimentary to every tiny step a man makes in acknowledging our humanity then other men will tell us we're problematicly looking for unicorns and don't understand humor. this dude realized a blind spot, it seems perfectly on topic to point out he might have some more left.
posted by nadawi at 7:30 AM on January 15, 2015 [33 favorites]


There's a perfect European solution to this problem.

Asterix and Tintin.


I love Tintin. I love Tintin enough that I have a tattoo of the symbol from Cigars of the Pharaoh. Tintin is great. I like Asterix okay too, so last year I went to the library and borrowed literally all the Asterix books they had, and I read them all in order. They were pretty good! I mostly liked them! I didn't love them like I love Tintin, but they were enjoyable. I did notice that the women are either young, super-svelte and attractive or pudgy, older nags, but I was like "whatever, I'll let that slide, I'm enjoying this okay, and I will cope with the fact that they have very limited agency and their roles are only either as objects of desire or objects of haranguing".

The last thing I read was Asterix and Obelix's Birthday: The Golden Book. It had some neat stuff, I guess, and they did a kind of cool thing where they drew in the style of other comics like Tintin which I really enjoyed. Then they also responded to some letters and criticisms they'd received over the years. I can't find a picture of the page (I looked extensively) but there was a sample letter that seemed (acknowledging that memory can paint a rosy picture) pretty polite, something like "I am a girl and I really like your books, but why are there no real female characters in them? Thank you." or similar. The response was a comic portraying women as angry, Valkyrie-like feminists chasing down Our Heroes. I shouldn't have been, but I was shocked at the vitriol directed at the female fans suggesting that perhaps it would be nice to have more representation. I could live with the lack of representation, but the scathing bitterness directed at young fans for having the gall (pun! Asterix-style!) to question anything about the entitled worldview of their perfect creation really, really upset me.

Again, I love Tintin and I think Asterix has value, but please don't suggest that either of them are a solution to the problem of female representation in comics.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:30 AM on January 15, 2015 [30 favorites]


The response was a comic portraying women as angry, Valkyrie-like feminists chasing down Our Heroes.

Oh, for Astérix and feminism you only have to look at Asterix and the Secret Weapon. Let's just say that Uderzo is slightly less reactionary than Peyo.
posted by sukeban at 7:33 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


A man viewing how the world looks to his young daughter and extrapolating onto adult women from that ends up in many ways reinforcing the (literal) patriarchy, in that it reinforces the idea that men need to protect women from the world -- which is an appropriate way to parent a young daughter but not an appropriate way to interact with adults. Which is why I find it frustrating when men do the "Oh, I get it now!" thing based on their young daughters.
posted by jaguar at 7:38 AM on January 15, 2015 [32 favorites]


It's weird that people feel the need to berate someone for actually self learning on a deeper level. Mind you, the article itself certainly has problems and naturally it's fine to criticize anything of course, but lambasting someone for understanding a problem on a different level isn't helpful. It's a damned if you, damned if you don't situation.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:39 AM on January 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


we know if we're anything less than 100% nice and complimentary to every tiny step a man makes in acknowledging our humanity then other men will tell us we're problematicly looking for unicorns and don't understand humor.
nadawi

This attitude is just bizarre.

Did you spring fully-formed from Zeus's brow? Can you not imagine something you don't already have a perfect understanding of? If there is such a thing, when you're trying to learn about it, does it help you if people who know more than you insult and belittle your attempts to learn? Does that make you want to learn more?

It's not about "not understanding humor", it's about actually implementing the change you claim to want. Presumably you want people who haven't come to understand feminist issues (who, keep in mind, are the majority, which is the problem) to change their minds.

You're being disingenuous when you talk about "point[ing] out he might have some more left." This person's attempts at change, or the recent Tobias Wolff piece, and other similar pieces recently posted on MetaFilter aren't being met with helpful pointers, they're being met with open scorn, mockery, and ridicule.

Why? What could possibly be achieved by this? Of course people aren't going to go from ignorance to enlightenment in one step, but if you're not going to help them at least don't stomp on them, because you want people to keep trying to change.

If people interested in learning more or changing see those who try being told to go fuck themselves, they're going to be discouraged from trying, which is bad for everyone.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:39 AM on January 15, 2015 [26 favorites]


he made a post about realizing that women are pretty hard done by representation, then made a shitty misogynistic joke about having to control his daughter and filled the post with boobs. forgive me for not throwing him a parade.
posted by nadawi at 7:44 AM on January 15, 2015 [62 favorites]


I would have thought Bone was totally appropriate for kids, but I've only read the first two volumes.

Bone goes from light and comedic, Disney comics level, in those early volumes to dark and serious by the end. People you care about die on page. Thorn gets really beat up (and down) before she comes back. It's no worse than say, Buffy, but it's probably not great for all six year olds.

On the other hand, Stupid, Stupid Rat Tales totally is.
posted by bonehead at 7:45 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is tough to find kid-friendly titles that aren't complete milquetoast crap. Adventure Time is my 9-year-old's go-to title, but I would like to help her broaden her horizons.

Tie-in comics in general seem to be doing good stuff these days. Bravest Warriors (related to the youtube cartoon) and My Little Pony are also enjoyable "all ages is not a euphemism" comics.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:45 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why? What could possibly be achieved by this?

I don't think people are trying to achieve anything per se, they're just voicing their anger and frustration. Sometimes that prompts deeper conversation, sometimes arguments, or something else.

Dealing with someone's anger is always a tricky situation.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:52 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I would say that shopping on-line is also a resource

Where's a good resource for online comics shopping? I'm seeing most online stuff about comics skewing towards digital comics and there's just something lost trying to read comics on an iPad vs. printed paper that I only try and get actual comic books. Is there an Amazon of comics online? Or is it Amazon itself?
posted by mathowie at 7:54 AM on January 15, 2015


jb > But I still sometimes feel weird that I've read a bunch of the critically acclaimed graphic novels but still have yet to read any mainstream DC/Marvel super hero titles.

I make comics. I grew up skipping most of the superhero stuff. When I go to the comic shop nowadays (plug for Phoenix in Seattle's Capitol Hill - cool people, queer and lady friendly, has sold a lot of copies of my book) I usually leave with zero superhero books. Unless Hawkguy counts? I don't think Hawkguy counts.

The message is not the medium; it's perfectly fine to have no interest in the genre of "dudes in garish clothes punching each other".

(Also if you want to read some ObDudesPunching then I suggest the collected Kirby's Fourth World.)
posted by egypturnash at 7:57 AM on January 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


Where's a good resource for online comics shopping?

In Stock Trades seems to be the go-to place for trade paperbacks. For floppies I've had good luck with Midtown Comics, but there are several similar sorts of places.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:01 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Where's a good resource for online comics shopping? I'm seeing most online stuff about comics skewing towards digital comics and there's just something lost trying to read comics on an iPad vs. printed paper that I only try and get actual comic books. Is there an Amazon of comics online? Or is it Amazon itself?
mathowie

Are you asking about where to get print comics online? It sounds like you don't want digital, but if you did Comixology and Marvel Unlimited are good.

For print Amazon can be good, and Discount Comic Book Service has great deals.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:03 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


if you find a comic shop you like (and i encourage everyone to just not go to comic shops full of asshole men who only point women towards "girlie comics" they obviously don't respect - if this is your only choice, by all means buy online with zero guilt) then you can also put in a subscription for comics you want to read - this shows the shop owner what their clientele is buying and gives the shop that sale, thus helping the indie stores.
posted by nadawi at 8:08 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


It is tough to find kid-friendly titles that aren't complete milquetoast crap. Adventure Time is my 9-year-old's go-to title, but I would like to help her broaden her horizons.
Tie-in comics in general seem to be doing good stuff these days. Bravest Warriors (related to the youtube cartoon) and My Little Pony are also enjoyable "all ages is not a euphemism" comics.
bee and puppycaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:54 AM on January 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think he did a pretty good job of mea culpa-ing on "I thought I got it, but I was wrong" and that this moment of the scales falling from his eyes is a jumping-off place for him to do a whole lot more thinking and reconsidering of sexist societal norms. I'm not going to hiss at the guy for being a beginner at this.

I just want to see more recognition that this isn't just an issue for daughters, it's just as much a problem for sons. Little boys just ignore the sexiness until they're interested, but they've already accepted from a super young age that it's normal for women to be always drawn like that.
posted by desuetude at 9:13 AM on January 15, 2015 [19 favorites]


I wish comics shops had more of an emphasis on other genres and had gentle introduction sections for both kids and those new to comics as well as more female-positive collections. I don't go to comics shops very often (they're few and far between) but it feels like the ones I have been in are like 75% superhero stuff with these kinds of depictions of women that even as I kid I shyed away from because the covers seem weird and aggressive and gross.

I know the economics of comic stores is kind of terrible and it's tough to make a buck in the business, but I do wonder if a shop could be supported by being more inclusive than catering to the average mainstream dude-centric superhero stuff.
posted by mathowie at 10:15 AM on January 15 [1 favorite +] [!]


Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn is pretty much what you describe here, if anyone is looking for all-human friendly comics shopping in NYC. They also have a kids section up front, with trade paperbacks and floppies just for kids. We got my wife's young cousin's some Wizard of Oz floppies one year from them and they were a hit.

I'm a sort of old person and my comics [now graphic novels] were an occasional Richie Rich because we weren't wealthy. I didn't want superpowers so much as to be able to buy things. I still don't follow graphic novels [a term for indie right?] but a cursory look shows that most mainstream comic book characters have unbelievable wealth, athletic abilities, and being a heroine or hero is their prime purpose. I'm ignorant to the form is what I'm trying to say. I never knew so many people were interested in the form until the internet brought it to my attention - though I've heard of Maus.

Are there any comics or graphic novels that feature the pizza delivery people?
posted by vapidave at 9:37 AM on January 15 [+] [!]


vapidave: the internet search term you are looking for is indie comics

Recommended comics for young people, with female leads:

I actually read a lot of books by First Second (:01) publishers, (because of American Born Chinese),but they're aimed at 8-12 year olds.

Amulet by Kazu Kibushi - has a female protagonist and beautiful art and interesting world and plotline, I'm actually surprised no one has brought it up!
Foiled is a pretty tame story about a female fencer girl who has to fight a troll art's good, plot is a little predictable
Foiled Again - the sequel also good
Anya's Ghost is a really good horror story for older kids also with a female protagonist
Broxo - has a male lead but an interesting plotline involving othering and it's long term affects

If they're already Airbender people Gene Luan Yang is doing a great job with the tweener books that fill in the gap between the original series and Korra.

There was a good askMe about this recently for a 3rd grader with specific focus on non-white female characters being represented.

http://ask.metafilter.com/271774/Book-recommendations-for-3rd-grader
posted by edbles at 9:20 AM on January 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


Ms. Marvel
Captain Marvel
She-Hulk
Saga (once she's older)
Red Sonja (once she's older)
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
Lumberjanes
I Kill Giants
Princeless
BONE


Also, although it's now ended, maybe Runaways? A group of kids find out that their parents, who they suspected were secretly superheroes, are in fact secretly supervillains... Joss Whedon even wrote that for a while. It's definitely T for Teen - there's a fair amount of fighting, some peril, and a lot of teen romance - but the characters are fun and the female characters aren't aggressively sexualised. The Brian K Vaughan/Whedon issues run up to issue 30 of volume 2, if memory serves, after which it goes a bit kablooey, gets pulled into the interminable Secret Invasion crossover and was later cancelled.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:21 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Being treated as if its not unreasonable to be annoyed by these simpleton glimmers of enlightenment would be a start. Woman don't have to be overjoyed that one man took one step towards acknowledging the entire culture women face is fucked up.
posted by agregoli at 9:21 AM on January 15, 2015 [19 favorites]


I don't get the criticism of this guy. The older you get the more you realize you have to meet people where they are and move them from there. And the joke about locking her up till menopause ... most men with kids have probably made a similar comment or joke. It's a way of reconciling the urge to protect your kid with the realization that they will one day be an adult and do things you may wish they wouldn't. He's not actually going to lock her up or make her do what he wants will she's 50.

When I was younger I started out "liberal" on issues I knew about but I didn't know (for a random example) what "gay" really was till I was like 19 and I didn't know anyone who identified themselves to me that way. I moved pretty quickly from "huh?" to tolerance to acceptance to active support, and when I think of the people along the way who were like YOU AREN'T CHANGING FAST ENOUGH, it just sort of pissed me off and delayed my development. This guy seems to be humbly and self-deprecatingly admitting has mental mistakes in public - why would anyone criticize that?
posted by freecellwizard at 9:23 AM on January 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh yeah, and First Second! In particular, Faith Erin Hicks does some great stuff about high school-age girls dealing with growing up, with some supernatural elements. Her first First Second book, Friends With Boys is online in its entirety, so can be checked out there. The War at Ellsmere, about a scholarship girl arriving at a posh boarding school, is also well spoken of.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:24 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


bee and puppycaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat

Seconded on this. Also, you can get compilations of Tales of the Beanworld now.

The Beans are asexual. They have "male" and "female," but they're arbitrary. The only non-Bean character with anything that could be considered a gender is Dreamishness, but the concept is similarly vague with her.
posted by JHarris at 9:30 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


If it matters Amulet is Scholastic, not First Second. I realized my formatting made that look weird.

The War at Ellsmere, about a scholarship girl arriving at a posh boarding school, is also well spoken of.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:24 PM on January 15 [+] [!]


Neat! I had sort of been reading this as a webcomic but lost track due to infrequent updates or some sort of life-change for me. Glad to know it exists in bound form!
posted by edbles at 9:39 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think he did a pretty good job of mea culpa-ing on "I thought I got it, but I was wrong" and that this moment of the scales falling from his eyes is a jumping-off place for him to do a whole lot more thinking and reconsidering of sexist societal norms. I'm not going to hiss at the guy for being a beginner at this.

I think the issue was that while he did a bit of mea culpa with regard to his previous position, he does seem to be patting himself in the back a little about his marvellous breakthrough, when really it ought to be so mundane as to not require any sort of breakthrough at all. I mean, a bit less sexist is better than a bit more sexist, but it is also still sexist.
posted by Dysk at 9:40 AM on January 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


most men with kids have probably made a similar comment or joke.

most men with girls, not kids. similarly, dads rarely threaten the girls dating their sons with shotgun jokes. it's a gendered joke about a gendered expectation. it's about ownership of women and it's one reason that relating to all of womankind through his daughter is a problem. if people can't move forward when other people express frustration, that's on them not the frustrated people. we've also had lots of mefites say that seeing the frustration and anger at things they thought weren't that big of a deal actually clued them in and made them better allies for a variety of causes - so while you might turn off and dig in at hearing it, that's not universal.
posted by nadawi at 9:40 AM on January 15, 2015 [59 favorites]


Are there any comics or graphic novels that feature the pizza delivery people?
vapidave

Your friendly neighborhood Spider-man was always a regular Joe struggling to make ends meet (though that's changed somewhat recently).

we've also had lots of mefites say that seeing the frustration and anger at things they thought weren't that big of a deal actually clued them in and made them better allies for a variety of causes - so while you might turn off and dig in at hearing it, that's not universal.
nadawi

There's a difference between someone not realizing an issue was a big deal and someone being shat on for trying to change because they haven't immediately achieved perfection. Those mefits who were clued in would not be served by being attacked when they tried to act on their new understanding.

No one is saying being angry or annoyed is "unreasonable" or wrong, just that it's a poor tactic for changing minds, especially when those minds are already in the process of changing. You can tell someone it's good they're trying but they could be better without mocking them. No, that doesn't mean every baby step deserves "a parade", but a little encouragement goes a long way.

And the ultimate goal is to get people to change, right? Isn't that what you want? So why attack people who try instead of trying to help them to be better?
posted by Sangermaine at 9:49 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


So this is what people mean when they say that having kids made them understand the world on a different, deeper level? Brief, tentative flickers of understanding of other people's experiences? Cool... glad people go from -20 empathy to like, 0.5 empathy. Level up.
posted by naju at 9:49 AM on January 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


I almost missed this comment, but the saddest part of this story is in the sidebar images, where his daughter literally refuses to play Harley Quinn, who used to be her favorite character, in Lego Batman now after this experience.
posted by edbles at 9:52 AM on January 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm actually feeling kind of good about this guy's realization, and here's why: This shit is insidious, and there are times when I--a late-twenties woman who has been a feminist since I could form thoughts--have similar realizations about my own experiences. I see a lot of sexism just going through the world as myself, but sometimes something will still shock me, and sometimes something that I thought I understood will suddenly shift and I'll realize that it's not just "oh that's sexist," it's that an aspect of my personality, a behavioral trait, an unexamined habit--a whole part of my self--is actually the shadow of a sexist message I absorbed at age seven. That it's actually warped my sense of self, without my realizing.

I mean, don't get me wrong, "boobie shots in comics = bad" is pretty fucking obvious. But it sounds like this guy knew that already, too. What he didn't get was the actual, tangible effect that such images have on a girl's emotional and intellectual development and sense of self.

I don't mean to tell anyone else how they should be feeling, because the "lock her up" joke is goddamn obnoxious. I think I must just be in a good mood today or something. But I get what he's saying.
posted by sunset in snow country at 9:55 AM on January 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


no one is shitting on this dude or mocking him. we're also not encouraging him or trying to change him. we're in fact not interacting with him at all. unless i missed it, he's not in this thread, which makes the people defending his feelings pretty weird.
posted by nadawi at 9:56 AM on January 15, 2015 [26 favorites]


I agree that it's different to talk about him here versus to his face. It's fine to say we didn't like the lock-up joke - neither did I. Honestly, I personally struggle with privately thinking people are terrible if they aren't exactly like me in terms of political views, enlightenment level, etc. But is this guy a guy who's really still sexist in any important way? I would say probably not. And is the way he framed his article likely to have a positive effect on other people in the comics world who maybe *are* sexist or way less evolved than him? Definitely yes.
posted by freecellwizard at 10:04 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


You know, I read this and was honestly motivated and excited at the same time, because it made me want to go try my hand at creating excellent comic books and graphic novels for girls and women that I would would have enjoyed as a kid myself.

So many pieces about these problems center on the outrage. They take a real problem, the lack of strong girls and women in media, and launch into bitter rants, full of cherry-picked examples of the absolute worst depictions of the genre. I understand that, to make the point, these critiques are focusing on the worst examples, I do.

But there is almost a masochistic indulgence in the way these critiques delight in wallowing in the worst of the muck and the mud and holding that stuff up as THE default offering, dissecting every single nuance with hyperbolic rhetoric which assumes the worst interpretation in every instance. They make someone like me, who loves Marvel and grew up with a crush on both Thor AND Sif, feel shut out of the discussion from the first paragraph. Having read so very, very, very many critiques in the same vein, heavy handed and preachy and so outraged with the world, I am more than ready for something else.

This one hit a note of wistfulness instead that spoke more to me, as a parent myself, coming from the perspective of someone just wanting to do right by another person they love and care for. The guy made a stupid, but very common, joke about locking his daughter up until menopause, true, and I rolled my eyes at that, especially given how out of place it felt in this narrative. But that was one small blemish in an otherwise thoughtful piece, and I don't expect perfection from a blog post--if I did, I'd be disappointed all day, every day. And even that blemish serves a literary purpose, actually, because in allowing our own imperfections to show, we (usually) evoke empathy in the reader, a shared acknowledgement that none of us have all the answers and are all just doing the best we can to figure it out as we go.

So I was, no lie, really excited by this post, and eager to come into the thread to talk about comics with other Mefites. I wanted to share an anecdote from when I was probably not much older than this guy's daughter, maybe 40 years ago(!).

I found, at my local 7-Eleven--which was the only place we had comics in my town then, on ONE spinny display rack--this brand new comic featuring a powerful woman superhero from another world, who escapes the bonds of slavery and becomes a champion, freeing other women and slaves and empowering them to rise up and revolt, too. I bought that comic, devoured it, and eagerly awaited more, and was ineffably saddened when the series didn't even make it past the 3rd issue because it didn't sell well enough. Back then, a lot of parents saw comics as eye candy, not fit for young girls to read. But my parents encouraged us to read everything we could get our hands on. I can't remember my Mom and Dad ever telling me NOT to read something.

So, on a positive note, I want to say how really thankful I am to those of you who shared your own stories about helping your kids find comics that excited them. Thank you for being amazing parents, fostering your kids' interests!

But I also wanted to acknowledge how thoroughly some of the early comments in here just poisoned this thread for me, and sucked all the enjoyment right out of my morning. So much anger and outrage over a Dad trying to see the world through his daughter's eyes and not quite meeting your personal yardstick of feminist enlightenment, really?

I'm going to do a Meta now, because I don't want to bog this thread down any more with my own negativity. I just wish we did this stuff better, that's all.
posted by misha at 10:13 AM on January 15, 2015 [17 favorites]


[if you want to talk about how people are reacting to this thread, it's better to take it to metatalk]
posted by mathowie at 10:25 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Lots of thoughts on the rest of this topic and this thread, but I'm going to enjoy this bit as well:

My eight- and nine-year-old Girl Scouts are going to be working on their Comics badge,

I wanna work on my Comics badge and am so glad anyone, but especially young girls, get to do so.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:31 AM on January 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


But is this guy a guy who's really still sexist in any important way? I would say probably not.

Serious question: What does "sexist in an[y] important way" look like to you, as a man? (Forgive me -- I'm assuming you're a dude for no other reason than because I don't think I've met a woman who would make a distinction between 'important' and 'unimportant' sexism.)

To me, as a woman, a father who feels comfortable making a joke about locking his daughter up until menopause is definitely still sexist in at least one very important way. Being surrounded with messages like that makes a whole lot of girl children feel less than human before we even hit grade school.
posted by divined by radio at 10:31 AM on January 15, 2015 [28 favorites]




I almost missed this comment, but the saddest part of this story is in the sidebar images, where his daughter literally refuses to play Harley Quinn, who used to be her favorite character, in Lego Batman now after this experience.

The shift of Harley Quinn's look seriously bums me out. Why DarkSex up the one villain wearing a full-body-costume designed specifically for a kids' cartoon? Catwoman and Poison Ivy weren't enough? Bah. I am grumpy about this.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:37 AM on January 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


where his daughter literally refuses to play Harley Quinn, who used to be her favorite character, in Lego Batman now after this experience.

Harley is an interesting character. She was created for Batman: The Animated Series (which remains perhaps the best version of that character there's ever been, with the possible exception of the animated Brave And The Bold -- note, here I conflate B:TAS with its successor, The Adventures of Batman and Robin) as a throwaway flunky for The Joker, but she was interesting and popular enough to make many repeat appearances, and eventually appear in other things.

It was the Arkham games, I believe, that introduced the more blatantly male-pandering design for the character. But Harley is kind of problematic for other reasons. Specifically, her character in the show was not intended to be a role-model. She's a villain, and while later episodes of B:TAS paint her in a more sympathetic light (she has an excellent story where she's trying to go straight), ultimately she always returns to crime because of her love for a man -- and not just any man, but just about the least healthy man possible.

The show, to its credit, recognized this, and the tragedy of her situation. There's an episode where they explore Harley Quinn's origins, that rather shockingly shows the brutality of the Joker's part of the relationship; he throws her out a window, to fall three stories. She ends up in traction, vowing that she's through with the Joker, until she sees the flower he sent to her, which gets her started all over again.

The problem I have is, DC lately seems to be trading off the relationship between the two like it's a positive thing. At the local Books-A-Million there's a T-shirt with a picture of Harley and the caption "Someone in Gotham loves me." There's another with Harley and a surprisingly-muscled Joker in an embrace. It seems like they're trying for a kind of Bonnie-and-Clyde appeal to the two, but The Joker (with the exception, I believe, of The Killing Joke) is one of the least reconstructed Batman villains, he (almost) never has a redemptive story. Harley is just hopelessly in love with an unrepentant homicidal maniac who throws her out a window sometimes. I think it's kind of inappropriate to be glamorizing that.
posted by JHarris at 10:52 AM on January 15, 2015 [31 favorites]




I'm halfway through the article and I'm already furious at the dude behind the counter at that comic book store.

Hello Kitty and Monster High? REALLY? REALLY???

I mean, even if we're only talking monthly pamphlet comics, what about...I don't know, ANY of the comics that Boom is putting out?

Maybe one of the giant (and growing) stack of kid-friendly graphic novels?

If it has to be superheroes, why not Faith Erin Hicks' Superhero Girl?

Like DUDE YOU HAD ONE JOB! ONE JOB! To know about comics!

D I S A P P O I N T E D
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:05 AM on January 15, 2015 [19 favorites]


some years ago i went into a comic shop, asked about a particular (viewed as serious) comic series, he told me he was sold out THEN RUINED THE ENDING and directed me towards something else absolutely unrelated because "girls like the art."
posted by nadawi at 11:10 AM on January 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


Unless you're willing to roll your eyes at women who care more about feminism because these issues affect them personally, it's dumb to roll your eyes at men who care more about feminism because these issues effect some particular person they love personally.

Rolling your eyes at a dad who really gets feminism because he has a daughter is like rolling your eyes at a woman who really gets feminism because she's a woman.
posted by straight at 11:10 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


In case it's helpful, if you're in Brooklyn and want to find great comics for your kids, Bergen Street Comics and The Community Bookstore both have EXCELLENT selections and are worthy of your bookdollars.

A good litmus test as to whether a comic store is wasting your time, kids comics-wise: if they don't currently have any books by Raina Telgemeier, Kazu Kibuishi, Cece Bell or any number of First Second Authors, they are not making even the bare minimum effort to put kid-friendly comics on their shelves.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:14 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


... except, he doesn't "really get" feminism. He now understands that it is upsetting to be a 7 year old girl who has suddenly discovered that ALL THE WORLD WANTS FROM YOU IS BOOBS. But this, for him "as a dude," not worth struggling over. It's only worth struggling in his context as father of a girl who better not dress sexily ever (a joke! Hah). I'm glad he's now got the personal window he required to believe all those anecdotes and stories about harassment and sexism, but that doesn't count as "really getting it."
posted by ChuraChura at 11:18 AM on January 15, 2015 [23 favorites]


I guess "sexist in any important way" is an awkward phrasing, but what I meant is that there are exactly zero people who can pass every other person's tests about what it means to be prejudiced, liberal/conservative, whatever. So no matter how well you think you're doing, someone out there thinks you're not doing well enough. So "important ways" to me would be job discrimination, thinking of women as less capable or smart, using or primarily thinking of women as sexual objects, discouraging a female child from traditionally male-dominated careers or activities, and so forth. Less important might be "has ever told a mildly sexist joke" or "once involuntarily stared and a woman's chest while talking to her" ... that's all I meant.

Who knows why he mentioned his menopause joke, but for example my wife frequently has this conversation with me:

(kid acts out)
Me: He needs a time out.
Her: What that child needs is an ASS-WHIPPING!

Is she violent? Super fixated on corporal punishment? Ignorant of more modern and productive child rearing methods? Of course not. But let's say I reversed the dialogue. It feels like people would be more likely to think testosterone! violent male!

Raising kids is tough. Handling their moves towards adulthood is challenging. There's a spectrum of reasonable ways to handle it, most of which work out ok in the end as long as you are adapting as you go and trying your best. This guy seems to be doing fine.
posted by freecellwizard at 11:28 AM on January 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


This must be an odd comics shop, without Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, MLP or Adventure Time comics or even shoujo manga

I don't know, this rings pretty true to what my comic shop experience was like growing up in a small town in the Bible Belt with only one shop, which was really primarily a baseball card shop.

The thing about comic shops is that, because there really aren't chains (and for the most part I'm happy there aren't chains), it's kind of on each particular proprietor to stock what they think is going to sell.

The shops I most often patronize in Los Angeles as an adult have tons of great options for young girls, all the time. From Ms. Marvel to Lumberjanes to My Little Pony to Manga to all kinds of interesting random stuff.

But I'm an adult. I chose to move to a large liberal-minded (and quite geeky!) city. I choose which comics shops I prefer. As the person wielding the debit card, I can ask for or order what I like. Kids have none of those luxuries. If you're a little girl in random anywhere America who wants to get into comics, there is a very chance that you're going to wander into a shop that aggressively works to make you feel unwelcome.
posted by Sara C. at 11:42 AM on January 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


The show, to its credit, recognized this, and the tragedy of her situation. There's an episode where they explore Harley Quinn's origins, that rather shockingly shows the brutality of the Joker's part of the relationship; he throws her out a window, to fall three stories. She ends up in traction, vowing that she's through with the Joker, until she sees the flower he sent to her, which gets her started all over again.
posted by JHarris at 1:52 PM on January 15 [9 favorites +] [!]


Yes you're totally right, I think Harley Quinn is bad role model for anyone, ever. I think that that episode of B:TAS is incredibly well done and a surprisingly mature look (for it's target audience which I assume was me at 12 years old watching WB when I got home from school) at the cycle of abuse, and is the art that I think of when I think of Harley Quinn(I also think it influenced the interview tapes in Arkham Asylum pretty deeply), and is something that should be shown in Health Education classes. In the Lego video game world the villians are less deeply deeply tragic, and characterizations are more along the lines of this character explodes Lego bricks in this particular way, so I think I just saw the cannot play favorite character anymore and discarded the attendant B:TAS baggage in my head when I made my earlier comment. I did like the part of the Batman Beyond movie where we see Harley as an old grandmother who clearly eventually got herself out of the relationship with the Joker (albeit with grandchildren who are now in the leaderless Joker street gang), but still progress at least for Harley herself.
posted by edbles at 11:42 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


I should explain, I wasn't trying so much to directly counter your comment, edbles, so much as using it as a jumping-off point for my own comment. I do that kind of a lot, sorry to make it seem like I was pushing at you.
posted by JHarris at 11:44 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


and in our heart of hearts we can just imagine that harley and ivy poisoned the joker and then stabbed him in the heart before driving away in a convertible, hands clasped and pointing to the sky.
posted by nadawi at 11:48 AM on January 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have to agree with nadawi. I still have to remember that, for whatever weird reason, some people (and honestly, I'm scared it's not the majority) don't or can't understand. But patting a guy on the back for a little realization he had seems like we are supposed to have really low expectations of men, like they're very stupid. Like the doofus husband character on TV commercials, or the husband who wants to be patted on the back and told "Great job!" for loading the dishwasher, so he can be trained into doing that 1 measly task. Like the wife has to be his mom, like he's a toddler who has to be congratulated for peeing in the potty.

I don't think I should have to jump up and down and be so pleased and fawn over this dude because this guy learned something new 7 years after his daughter was born. Unless I'm just supposed to have really low expectations of the male mind.
posted by discopolo at 11:51 AM on January 15, 2015 [26 favorites]


No worries, J. Harris your comment just made me see my statement in a different light. I have to say it's nice to see the comments on his blog are actually nice recommendations for alternate series to look for and better comic shops to go to in his area where his family might feel more comfortable (other than one guy who drops a turd who he quickly tamps down).
posted by edbles at 11:53 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


wallowing in the worst of the muck and the mud and holding that stuff up as THE default offering

In comics, the worst of the muck is the default offering. Period. The reason comic books and video games are constantly coming up for feminist critique is that the most mainstream examples of those forms are shockingly, disgustingly misogynist from the get-go, right there on the cover.

This isn't that hard.
posted by Sara C. at 11:59 AM on January 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


Another thanks for the tips. Regarding the age suitability, my daughter is a 'young' kind of 12, but while she finds violent/action/superhero movies no problem, there is a kind of solitary intimacy about the consumption of comics that means she actually can't handle the darker-side ones. I would not have expected that.
posted by colie at 12:00 PM on January 15, 2015


I think the issue was that while he did a bit of mea culpa with regard to his previous position, he does seem to be patting himself in the back a little about his marvellous breakthrough, when really it ought to be so mundane as to not require any sort of breakthrough at all. I mean, a bit less sexist is better than a bit more sexist, but it is also still sexist.

I took his ending of "still thinking about this" as a hopeful indication that he was not declaring his understanding to be Mission Accomplished.

Sure, I would love for our society to be in a place where no breakthrough is required, but it's going to be an uphill battle for men to "snap out of it," so to speak, as long as children continue to grow up with such inherent sexism accepted as normal and unremarkable. Or perhaps considered a problem w/r/t girls' self-image...but not recognized as a problem for boys' expectations.

The overt sexuality of the female characters is right there in the comic books you've read since you were five, waiting for you to be old enough to perhaps have a prurient interest in it. That's a handy lifelong lesson in heterosexual entitlement.
posted by desuetude at 12:10 PM on January 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


A good litmus test as to whether a comic store is wasting your time, kids comics-wise: if they don't currently have any books by Raina Telgemeier, Kazu Kibuishi, Cece Bell or any number of First Second Authors, they are not making even the bare minimum effort to put kid-friendly comics on their shelves.

Or aren't interested in making money. The DC area is not Detroit, but these were the top sellers at Big Planet Comics in 2014 (disclosure: I know the people who own those stores well, so biased!).

Raina Telgemeier was in Entertainment Weekly! I don't know if you get much more mainstream than that. Your store is going to be too good to put her books on the shelves?
posted by darksong at 12:58 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


It must be noted that DC and WB are making a "Suicide Squad" movie for next summer with an all-star cast of villains-turned-protagonists:
Jared Leto – The Joker
Will Smith – Deadshot
Tom Hardy – Rick Flag
Margot Robbie – Harley Quinn
Jai Courtney – Boomerang
Cara Delevingne – Enchantress
Can you count the levels of potential wrongness here?

As a webcomics fanfanatic, I've pre-ordered the Nimona book and already have (and LOUDLY recommend to all ages and genders) Digger, Cucumber Quest, and Monster Pulse. I WISH I could recommend the Redtail's Dream book , but it was a pricey-but-worth-it limited edition and hey, the whole story's still free online, but then, so are the others.

And let me (for the umpteenth time) say
Squirrel Girl,
Squirrel Girl,
She's a human and also squirrel.
Can she climb
Up a tree?
Yes she can,
Easily.
That's why
Her name is Squirrel Girl.

Ryan North, who already hit home runs with Adventure Time, writing. 'Nuff said.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:16 PM on January 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


(I also really like She-Hulk, the current incarnation of which is being written by the inexplicably productive Charles Soule, but a) the art style, although certainly not exploitative, is something of an acquired taste and b) a lot of it is about arguing legal points, so might not be particular engaging to children...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:24 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Unless I'm just supposed to have really low expectations of the male mind.
discopolo

No, because the problem is a systemic one, one of privilege. Men don't have to think about these issues because their privilege insulates them from it. It's a construct of society at large regardless of their individual intelligence.

We have to approach the world the way it is, not the way we want it to be. And the way it is right now is that the vast majority of men live inside this privileged bubble and never have to think about gender issues. Having a daughter may be the thing that pierces that bubble and makes them stop and consider the issue for the first time, not because they're dumb but because society exists such that they've never had to before.

The reason I think it's so important to value and encourage these realizations isn't because men deserve a cookie or a parade, but because it's a dangerous moment. When the structure of privilege begins to crack, it could lead to better understanding and behavior, but it could also result in a recoil and going down a very ugly path. This is what gets you your MRAs, the rising tide of white male anger we see in the US and parts of Europe, etc. They see cracks in the structure of privilege, feel threatened, and fall into reactionary thinking.

We should do everything we can to help more people to understanding and avoid that recoil. A more understanding, less privileged society is the goal. That's why nadawi has it wrong when they say, "if people can't move forward when other people express frustration, that's on them not the frustrated people." The current status quo is what we want to change; anything that impedes that change is a bad thing because things staying the same is bad for women. If people can't move forward for whatever reason, it's a loss, whether or not your frustration is 100% justified.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:27 PM on January 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


Hope Larson's graphic novels are also pretty great; YA girl friendship stories with really neat art.
posted by NoraReed at 1:32 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


if coddling men and doing all the emotional labor for them got them to respect us and see us as equal people, we'd be there already.
posted by nadawi at 1:35 PM on January 15, 2015 [53 favorites]


> The current status quo is what we want to change; anything that impedes that change is a bad thing because things staying the same is bad for women

You're presuming that change can happen only when all men are comfortable with the process.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:35 PM on January 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


The reason I think it's so important to value and encourage these realizations isn't because men deserve a cookie or a parade, but because it's a dangerous moment. When the structure of privilege begins to crack, it could lead to better understanding and behavior, but it could also result in a recoil and going down a very ugly path. This is what gets you your MRAs, the rising tide of white male anger we see in the US and parts of Europe, etc. They see cracks in the structure of privilege, feel threatened, and fall into reactionary thinking.

So I have to train men with positive emotional feedback or they'll become MRAs?
posted by discopolo at 1:46 PM on January 15, 2015 [20 favorites]


Sadly, with Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl and TV's Agent Carter all providing positive female role models (they're recovering from the SpiderWoman's ass controversy... partly by putting the bad butt behind the title in the final version of the cover; jury's still out on Female Thor, but promising), the She-Hulk series is being cancelled. But coming up next month, spun-off from the insane Multi-Spider-Verse series: "Spider-Gwen", where Gwen Stacy got bit by the radioactive spider and Peter Parker is dead... Only the Marvel Movies are lagging behind.

So I have to train men with positive emotional feedback or they'll become MRAs?
'Not all men', but a large percentage of us require it. I think it's part of the 'missing leg' on the XY chromosome that makes us men naturally inferior, y'know?
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:54 PM on January 15, 2015


I read this essay as an attempt to lead men who are nearly ready to begin waking up from our centuries-long collective nightmare of misogyny -- of which we have mistakenly viewed ourselves as protagonists -- a little further along toward consciousness.

I think it succeeds, and I don't see it as defining the limits of the author's awareness; I suspect he woke up long ago, and that this piece merely distills his journey down to a weekend afternoon epiphany at the comic book store.
posted by jamjam at 1:57 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I mean, that reminds of of the online dating messages article, when a guy says "Hi, you're cute" and then loses his mind when the woman replies "I know" instead of "thank you." Some folks in that FPP blamed the woman, oddly enough. Like she's responsible for making him feel appreciated enough to be nice to her, or she's at fault for causing him to lose his shit.
posted by discopolo at 1:58 PM on January 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


He says "I hate not understanding things" with all italics and boldface...that must be an awful lot of hate at the end of his day.
It's not even about understanding; he's not making a good show explaining things either. What a mediocre writer.
posted by Namlit at 2:08 PM on January 15, 2015


So I have to train men with positive emotional feedback or they'll become MRAs?

Nice ally ya got there. Be a real shame if he were to feel mildly uncomfortable about the ideological pressure he subconsciously enables
posted by Greg Nog at 2:09 PM on January 15, 2015 [63 favorites]


I think it's part of the 'missing leg' on the XY chromosome that makes us men naturally inferior, y'know?

I know you're joking around here but not all men are XY and not all XY people are men
posted by NoraReed at 2:34 PM on January 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yes, joking, but also effective in shutting up some less well-educated MRAs.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:40 PM on January 15, 2015


In point of fact, I am trans, I am a man and I am intersex mosaic, so I'm XY and XXY.

Also, being a feminist and many other kinds of activist, I have literally never found a use of "not all men" that was helpful in any context except if you are trying to be divisive and insulting.
posted by kalessin at 2:54 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, insulting to MRAs is one of the few exceptions I make to my 'be nice' standards, and I KNEW this was one of my worst jokes of the year (the year is still young) so I SERIOUSLY apologize to anyone offended who I was not really intending to offend.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:00 PM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


aaa, sorry if I did it wrong, kalessin, I think I might be kind of a cissexism-robot who's bad at nuance stuff and I only realized after the fact that I'd used the "not all men" phrase and rolled my eyes at myself. also "intersex mosaic" is a great phrase
posted by NoraReed at 3:10 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]




I think it's possible to feel great that the author has come to his realization—and that he's written about it!—and also frustrated that dude wasn't able to have the same deep realization through listening to the dismay of his female friends, or reading an article, or even thinking about things a bit. He just didn't get there, even though he was motivated to be on team equality.

Because in the time that it's taken this guy to make his realization, a new generation (and target market) of young dudes who don't quite get it has come up in his place. And a new generation of women is talking to them, but not quite being heard. And it makes attaining change, or even conveying the problem, feel like an impossible thing to do.

I'm glad he wants to be an ally to women! And he certainly gets points for trying, since he could just opt out. My frustration isn't with the author personally, so much as it is with the status quo that his story represents.

Because while there are definitely more (and good!) titles out there, they still feel like so many needles in a spandex-clad superhero haystack. And as a result, many comics shops still telegraph "this is not for you" pretty hard and heavy, making them somewhere that girls are disinclined to shop, or hang out, or socialize and make friends. Yes, it is possible to find rad comics. But it is harder to find that same experience of walking, agog, into a fascinating store full of wondrous things that clearly wants you to be there.

And, sure, you can order stuff online, and the Adventure Time comics are even more lady-friendly than the show, and Nimona is the bee's knees. But the more invisible women remain as customers, the more comfortable network and studio executives will feel ignoring female protagonists and plot lines because us ladyfolk "just don't buy toys" or whatever. Argh.

the joke about locking her up till menopause ... most men with kids have probably made a similar comment or joke

So, my dad made that joke a bunch, and lemme tell ya, it always felt crappy when he did. My younger brother's relationships, right down to his kindergarden "girlfriends," were treated as an accomplishment, and source of pride, and a reason to brag to acquaintances. He was a real chip off the ol' block! Look at this little lady's man right here.

Meanwhile, my relationships were treated as something between a threat and a source of shame. Once or twice, as a kid, I tried to brag about my relationships to my dad, in order to secure some of the adulation that was heaped on my brother. When that didn't work, and the "shotgun and a shovel" crap continued, I pretty much stopped talking about my relationships with my dad. Even as an adult.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:49 PM on January 15, 2015 [30 favorites]


One comic I haven't seen mentioned yet that I really love and would have been totally into when I was in junior high is Hopeless Savages -- basically it's family adventures centered around the four kids of a Billy Idol-type and a Debbie Harry-type. It's three quick volumes that have been collected into one overall collection. I keep hoping Jen'll write some more.
posted by rewil at 3:59 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ok so i feel like i should clarify what i'm getting at here, seeing as how this has become some sort of ideological battle.

I think it's possible to feel great that the author has come to his realization—and that he's written about it!—and also frustrated that dude wasn't able to have the same deep realization through listening to the dismay of his female friends, or reading an article, or even thinking about things a bit. He just didn't get there, even though he was motivated to be on team equality.

It's basically this. I just have like, empathy fatigue when it comes to some guy whose probably 10-15 years older than me at least, maybe even more, and... what. Did he just never have any lady friends? Did he isolate himself from them in a nerdsphere, and only really have "not like other girls" friends?

Because being a very, very nerdy guy who grew up with extremely nerdy friends i both saw firsthand and listened to the complaints of the girls, and later women i hung out with. The group of people i knew was slightly more guys than girls, but there was a parallel group of almost entirely super nerdy guys that had overlap with my circle of friends... and they talked about this shit a lot, and often brought it back to me and the other dudes. Or we'd bring something up, or make some stupid teenage manbrodude joke, or whatever and they'd steer it in to talking about how much or why that sucks or is shitty or how different it looks or feels to them.

Did he not have these conversations? Did he have no lady friends? did, presumably, the women he dated in high school and college or his 20s or whatever not have friends who were nerdy women?

He works in IT, where there are not enough but still plenty of nerdy women. Did he have no friends there? Presumably he went to college, in some kind of CS/networking/etc field. There aren't zero women there, and i really doubt his friends were 100% guys, or all of them were single the entire time.

I just, as i said, have care fatigue when i get the feeling that people were discussing these things right in front of him and presumably being visibly uncomfortable with them, or drifting away.

I'm freaking non neurotypical and it wasn't impossible for me to grasp how this stuff was exclusionary after it was demonstrated and explained to me a few times. Especially after i had been well, othered and excluded more than a few times myself.

Maybe i'm an asshole. I don't know. My opinion can basically be summed up as "i started at a position disadvantaged even from you when it comes to "getting it" and i figured it out a lot earlier than you did just through discussions and you know, watching people get or feel excluded. You didn't get it until it was "personal", why should i clap for you?".

Regardless of uncharitable it is, i can't pull myself away from the feeling that he just discounted or minimized the experiences of women he personally knew, unconsciously or not. People not enjoying this kind of shit and just generally being systematically excluded from nerdy things when they're women is right fucking there in front of you unless you're intentionally looking away. Woopdy fucking doo, dude.
posted by emptythought at 4:08 PM on January 15, 2015 [18 favorites]


It's possible that the women around him didn't talk about this stuff because he didn't give any indication of being a safe person to discuss it with. I talk about feminism and sexism all the time, but I'm careful about who I talk about it with - mostly my girlfriends and guy friends that I know are clued in. Sometimes I'll wade in to an internet conversation (I'm a pro wrestling fan and have done this on some of the better behaved website comment sections) where I don't know how people will react, but it throws me for a very difficult emotional loop when they respond with defensiveness or dismissiveness or outright aggression. I'm pretty non-confrontational in person so I wouldn't even try that in real life unless I felt I'd have some glimmer of support or attempt at understanding.

Not that this excuses his apparent blinders, just that I see plenty of privileged people living their lives honestly just not thinking about this stuff to any level of depth.
posted by misskaz at 4:14 PM on January 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


> it throws me for a very difficult emotional loop when they respond with defensiveness or dismissiveness or outright aggression

I got into a Feminism 101 discussion with a male acquaintance a few months ago, and I was startled at some of the crap he said -- MRA things that would get shot down in a minute here. It was interesting, seeing stuff I take for granted (e.g. that sexism exists) being dismissed by someone who I know and socialize with.

I think it's good that this guy wrote this piece. He's going to reach an audience that maybe has never thought of this stuff, and is going to be more receptive to it because it's coming from another man -- this sucks, but, well, better that than that they don't get the message at all.

He's not a bad man for not having thought stuff all the way through, or for making cringeworth jokes about his daughter. What he is, what he really really is, is in need of an editor. The piece isn't well written or carefully thought out, and the same is true of the other columns on that website (at least the ones I read).

If he'd had one more pair of eyes look it over, especially if they were the eyes of someone further along the feminism trail, it would've helped him out.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:27 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


misskaz - A lot of dudes just make a lifelong practice of not ever listening to women.
posted by Sara C. at 5:07 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's possible that the women around him didn't talk about this stuff because he didn't give any indication of being a safe person to discuss it with. I talk about feminism and sexism all the time, but I'm careful about who I talk about it with - mostly my girlfriends and guy friends that I know are clued in. Sometimes I'll wade in to an internet conversation (I'm a pro wrestling fan and have done this on some of the better behaved website comment sections) where I don't know how people will react, but it throws me for a very difficult emotional loop when they respond with defensiveness or dismissiveness or outright aggression. I'm pretty non-confrontational in person so I wouldn't even try that in real life unless I felt I'd have some glimmer of support or attempt at understanding.

That's just the thing though. All the brash, not-reading-the-room, argumentative debate team-esque blundering elephant in a china shop social interactions that male nerds present are not exclusive to men. I have a general understanding, although i have obviously not experienced it, that girls and punished much more harshly than boys for not "getting" social cues and such. But that doesn't mean there aren't non-neurotypical or just awkward/super nerdy women out there who well... basically act like nerdy internet dudes too.

I knew more than a couple girls growing up who would cut me off and just go "oh shut the fuck up emptythought, that's retarded" if i started blathering on about what my thoughts were with how girls got treated at anime conventions when we were hanging out after going to one or whatever.

From how many girls and women i've met like that in nerdy groups of people, who will just yell at these dudes and tell it like it is, i find it hard to believe that he didn't encounter one or two. Especially since he doesn't seem like someone totally insufferable they'd just shun and not want to deal with because tiresome and draining.

I'm belaboring my point, but i can't concoct a scenario i really believe in where that didn't happen at least a few times and his reaction wasn't just "yea heh ok" and to just keep like, broduding on along like kermit the frog.(this may become a habit indeed...)


I feel like wanting to fight/argue about shit is like, almost a defining nerdy quality. Especially when it's something they're passionate about they know they're correct about. Yea it's usually contractors on the death star type stuff, or whether final fantasy 7 is overrated, but nerds loving arguing about shit. That is not an exclusively male quality, even if it's tolerated in men and discouraged in women.
posted by emptythought at 5:09 PM on January 15, 2015


Jeez, mainstream comics' portrayals of women have been icky and problematic more often than not for eons, but are we returning to 1990s Rob Liefeld and Gen13-levels of T&A? Those pictures... ugh. The captions on the pictures... differently ugh.

I've been noticing what DC has been doing with Harley Quinn, which is pretty much everything Marvel has been doing (and overdoing) with Deadpool, plus gratuitous service to the male gaze. Not a fan.

For any Chicagoans looking for places to shop you probably already know that Quimby's and Challengers both have great selections of age appropriate stuff from the majors and the indies. Challengers seems a bit easier to navigate on that regard.
posted by elr at 6:02 PM on January 15, 2015


I feel kind of bad, because I saw Amanda Conner on a pretty interesting panel about female characters in comics at SDCC, and she seems cool and like she gets it, but oy vey all aspects of Harley Quinn ick me out.
posted by Sara C. at 6:09 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Besides comics - I'd like to make a side comment about what's been happening in games - specifically in competitive games - things have been getting better. Really. A long time ago, League of Legends used to be an offender, at least in my eyes. There weren't many champions you could choose at the start (just out of beta) and the way they were portrayed, for example, my friends and I would laugh about Sona having gigantic boobs, or Janna being some male teen's fantasy. Over the years their art team has wisened up: look at what Sona looks like today. Way, way better - it feels very clear to me that years later, they're moving away from the whole "women as sex objects" to "women as actual characters" in the art design concepts. I'm a lot happier with where things are now and would feel more comfortable recommending the game to friends.

Blizzard's competing game in the scene, Heroes of the Storm, retains their solid art direction and values. Look at the designs for most of the females currently in the Alpha test - Jaina, Nova, Valla, Sonya, Kerrigan, Lili. I don't think Blizzard get enough recognition in this regard.

Single player RPG games though, I have no experience in, though that's already been covered extensively in the media.
posted by xdvesper at 6:18 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


My thought is that fully understanding misogyny and being conscious of it is difficult. Maybe it wouldn't be in the ideal culture, but our culture is far from ideal. It's difficult for some women to understand fully, to grok and deal with internalized oppression, body shaming, religions that separate the sexes, and all the myriad manifestations. It's hard for scholars, who often disagree about aspects of misogyny (expressions of sexuality for example, or the status of trans women). And it's hard for men, who may lack the experience of the women, and the critical skills of a scholar.

I suppose I could argue that if it was easy, then it would be done, but I don't feel that's necessarily the case. At the very least it doesn't seem easy to men. I do see our culture reinforces oppression of women (and other minorities) in ways that aren't always apparent.

I think of consciousness raising among feminists, the process of going around in a discussion, talking about their own lives, taking incidents they had seen as isolated and recognizing them as a pattern, a system of oppression. I think also of how exposure to actual GLBT people has been shown to change people's opinions of gays and gay marriage. If that was useful, if consciousness raising was useful (and I realize some feminists have characterized consciousness raising as "non-political" and "trivial"), then doesn't it make sense that a broader consciousness is often based first in personal relationships?

It's too little. We should grow up with it, equality should be our culture. We shouldn't need concrete personal examples to reason about abstract broad concepts. And nobody should be satisfied with this, like it's the end, instead of the very beginning. I guess I just see it as the beginning, however poor, and not nothing.
posted by gryftir at 6:29 PM on January 15, 2015


most men with girls, not kids. similarly, dads rarely threaten the girls dating their sons with shotgun jokes.

I'm a woman. I have mused not-so jokingly about locking up my younger cousin - not because I think women are objects, but because men can be so bloody shitty to teenage girls. (And I do mean men, over-18s).
posted by jb at 6:34 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


So why are so few people joking about locking up teenage boys and men?
posted by jaguar at 6:35 PM on January 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


Because 5000 years of societal conditioning is something that doesn't go away just overnight.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:39 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


In 1972 I worked in a factory. My boss was a man who had two teenage daughters at home and one of them got pregnant. He told us how she'd come to him and asked if she would have to leave home or if her parents would accept her and the baby without having to make a big uproar about the father, who wanted nothing to do with the whole thing. My boss and his wife told her that certainly she and her baby were welcome - absolutely. When my boss told us the story he included the (common) silly line that he didn't know how on earth it happened because he kept her chained up to the wall in the attic with a pack of mean dogs to guard her - to guard her virginity, I suppose. We all had the same response - the good-natured eye-roll and congratulations on the new on-the-way baby.

There was a company Christmas party and he brought his family - his daughter was, by that time, obviously very pregnant. There were lots of happy greetings and good times and his daughter was congratulated and hugged and made very welcome. I heard him telling the chained-to-the-wall story to some bigwigs that we had rare contact with as he introduced his daughter - she was laughing about it - and NO ONE took it even remotely seriously.

When that baby was born - oh, my. The boss was walking all over the plant carrying a blown-up photo of the newborn on his shoulder and showing it off - with the emphasis on how this little guy had inherited his Grandpa's good looks. The photo was that almost-ugly first photo of the baby taken within minutes of its birth when it's shriveled up and angry and hasn't yet settled into our realm, so the idea that the babe had inherited Grandpa's gorgeous looks was what we called tongue-in-cheek before the world became so crushingly serious as it apparently is now when such a trivial old joke is afforded the luxury of a shitstorm because it's objectifying a woman. I wonder how we managed in those days.

It seems incredibly sad to me that we are so busy focusing on one aspect of a thing that we miss the main idea. I can't imagine what it would be like if we were in that same factory today and an identical situation came up and the people in that factory, other than myself and Harvey the boss, were the angry women here.
posted by aryma at 6:49 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, yes, exactly. If the issue is that men and boys are out of control, then the joke that people should lock up women makes no sense and therefore betrays a patriarchal set of mind.
posted by jaguar at 6:50 PM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh, and maybe a year or so later, if that, the teenage boy who lived next door to me made a baby with his girlfriend. His father beat the living hell out of him. FWIW.
posted by aryma at 6:52 PM on January 15, 2015


MeTa about this thread.
posted by jaguar at 7:07 PM on January 15, 2015


It's all right, aryma, bosses are still telling sexist jokes and their employees still generally have to tolerate it or find a new job.
posted by gilrain at 7:10 PM on January 15, 2015 [19 favorites]


So why are so few people joking about locking up teenage boys and men?

Because it's a patriarchal world, and we know that will never happen. But we still don't want the girls and women we love to be hurt - as some of us were.
posted by jb at 7:14 PM on January 15, 2015


I actually hate that attitude - that girls or women should be locked up, shouldn't walk down dark alleys, that fathers should intimidate boys, etc - and have spent my life defying it (sometimes by literally walking down dark alleyways). But I do understand it, and it's not all based in thinking of women as property. I know my fears for children I love (boys and girls, but yes, more so girls) is that they will be pressured into having sex too early or with the wrong person, for the wrong reasons - and you want to forewarn them, but you can't because you know they won't really listen to you.
posted by jb at 7:20 PM on January 15, 2015


Well, no, it absolutely is based on the idea of women as property, it's just that at this point it's all part of the cultural water we're swimming in. Most people never really unpack the "baby girl so pretty I better buy a shotgun" jokes. Which makes it both somewhat excusable that this dude repeated that (people who aren't disgusting monsters say that all the time), and also just goes to show how incredibly fucked up the gender situation in even our relatively enlightened society is.
posted by Sara C. at 7:25 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


You can certainly teach girls respect for their own bodies, encourage confidence in their own choices, and be consistently available and nonjudgmental so that they are comfortable approaching you if something's wrong. It's not about warning or isolating as much as it should be about respecting, teaching, and trusting.
posted by jaguar at 7:27 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


And part of respect and teaching and trusting is trusting that people can recover from bad situations and teaching them the resilience to do so.
posted by jaguar at 7:28 PM on January 15, 2015


it feels very clear to me that years later, they're moving away from the whole "women as sex objects" to "women as actual characters" in the art design concepts

They might be headed in the right direction—Blizzard gets props for having lady characters that look legitimately strong, and some that are fully clothed—but I still don't want to be any of the characters you linked to. They just don't speak to me.

I don't want to wear a dress that my tits are spilling out of. And the focal point of every suit of armor that you linked to appears to be weirdly gigantic molded boob plates.

Is it okay for other people to want that? Sure. But I am pretty sure I'm not alone in wanting some other options entirely.

Compare, for instance, the outfits in one of my favorite webcomics, which is evenly divided between female and male characters. Or the lady characters in this comic. Or the aforementioned Nimona.

When I look at those characters, all of which are drawn by ladies, I see something I can identify with. Their characters are dressed in a way that makes sense to me. In contrast, when I look at the Blizzard characters, "male gaze" is still the first phrase that comes to mind.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 7:33 PM on January 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


Plenty of classic strips are being reprinted( most pricey but should be accessible through a library). 1920's Gasoline Alley depicts Walt as a loving, adoptive parent to Skeezix; in a 1940s Archie newspaper strip Betty suits up and helps win a football game after Archie has been knocked out.
posted by brujita at 8:14 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I look at those characters, all of which are drawn by ladies, I see something I can identify with. Their characters are dressed in a way that makes sense to me.

That's just one of the many things I loved about Carla Speed McNeil's characters in Finder. Not that there weren't women dressed all sexy, but it wasn't the default and if they were sexy it was because that character was doing it on purpose.
posted by small_ruminant at 8:16 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah that art still struck me as gaze-y as fuck, but there are a lot of better things! I've been playing Dragon Age: Inquisition and though some of the stuff is still questionable there are some really well-written female characters wearing pretty good outfits. It's a huge improvement over DA:O, where I had to keep giving all the female rogues a bunch of points in strength so they could wear medium armor because all of the light mail was boobplate. It's not perfect-- Vivienne's outfits are really cool, but she occasionally sports a pretty ridiculous boob window that might work OK at court but seems a bit impractical for fighting on the run, some previous characters return in costumes that are completely absurd, spandex seems to have been invented in Thedas long before they discovered germs, etc. But as someone in the Bioware fandom I know what a lot of the fans have been clamoring for and so I know that a lot of Varric's outfits are probably intended to be fanservice, so that tips the scales a bit, and they do really well with the gay and bi characters, the writing is good and the creators are pretty good at telling people who complain about games not being intended exclusively for hetero men to fuck off, so I'm willing to cut them a bit of slack.
posted by NoraReed at 8:21 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wore a dress with a boob window once for about 10 minutes and it was cold and weird. Imagine a nice round hole cut out of your pants at the ass crack. Now go to a party wearing that.

Unless it's leather fetish wear, and the party is guaranteed well heated, it's nope all 'round.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:10 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I took his ending of "still thinking about this" as a hopeful indication that he was not declaring his understanding to be Mission Accomplished.

Sure, but he was still kind of jumping up and down and shouting "look at me, look at me" for having done the barest thing. I mean, he wrote the article right? He didn't go 'hmm, looks like I didn't know shit and probably still don't, maybe I should talk to a woman or ask a woman to write a thing!' he went off and wrote a self-congratulatory article.
posted by Dysk at 3:34 AM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


...or maybe it was an apologetic article? Maybe it wasn't "look at me, look at me," maybe it was "wow, I was really wrong before this and I want to own that and apologize to people who may have been frustrated before that were trying to explain."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:52 AM on January 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


I didn't see any apologising in the article. I did, however, see a bunch of sexist jokes and references to his being conflicted about his feelings on the endemic objectification of women in comics still ("as a dude, no. as a dad, yes") in a way that kind of says 'but the boobs everywhere are still totally hot and awesome, amirite lads?'
posted by Dysk at 4:10 AM on January 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


I didn't see any apologising in the article.

Then what do you call this, which was the third or fourth paragraph of the piece -
And yet, to all of the women that I know, especially those in the tech scene, I kinda feel like I owe you an apology…because it wasn’t until I took my seven year old daughter to a comic book store this weekend that the universe slapped me upside the head and brought a really serious issue into focus for me…I never understood it before. I mean, I thought I understood it before. But I really didn’t understand it before.
I mean, if you don't categorize it as an apology if he even freakin' uses the word "I owe you an apology" right IN the SENTENCE, then....I don't know what to tell you, because it's looking more like you just plain don't WANT to see his apology.

I mean, it's valid if you don't want to ACCEPT his apology, but you're saying you don't even SEE his apology, which isn't fair to the words he wrote. People have talked about trying to "defend" the guy himself, but I'm more about defending his WORDS, and the apology that IS there.

Yes, his words also contain some sexist jokes. But - as you yourself admit - he is still conflicted about his feelings, and this could be informing those jokes - he's still nervous and trying to sort this shit out.

But flat-out not thinking his piece could have been apologetic when he makes an apology RIGHT IN THE PIECE is, to me, a sign of someone who has already decided to not like the guy and is bringing that decision to what he read, to the point that it is OBSCURING what he read. And, I mean, you don't have to LIKE the guy, but at least try to dislike him based on what he ACTUALLY said, you know?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:43 AM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


"I kinda feel like I owe you an apology" is actually not an apology. It's a weaselly way of saying you ought to apologise without actually doing the work of apologising.
posted by jeather at 4:51 AM on January 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


You can argue about whether what he said after that "I thought I knew but I really didn't" (paraphrased) counts as an apology; I think at best it's a bad one.
posted by jeather at 5:00 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


That, in the context of the rest of the piece, is a non-pology.
posted by Dysk at 5:26 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


And you'll please not be referring to me as 'he' again.
posted by Dysk at 5:27 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


If that was aimed at me, the "he" was referring to the author of the article, not to anyone here.
posted by jeather at 5:35 AM on January 16, 2015


That, in the context of the rest of the piece, is a non-pology.

I can understand you not wanting to ACCEPT his apology, or questioning its sincerity, but denying it IS an apology seems dishonest.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:09 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


To me, "I kinda feel like I owe you an apology" and then delivering an apology is an apology. But just saying "I kinda feel like I owe you an apology" and then going on at length about one's personal journey is, at best, a clumsy apology peppered with "Hey look at how good I am!" Not an ideal apology by any metric including the JScalzi method. I think it's okay to look for more here.

Also count me as a trans person who gets lots of half and fake apologies from folks on trans acceptance journeys who are looking for cookies. Perhaps I'm burned out? But I don't really give a shit. Try harder. Do better.
posted by kalessin at 7:40 AM on January 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


jeather, I think Dysk was referring to EC gendering her as male in the last paragraph of EC's post.
posted by gilrain at 7:42 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wasn't sure, and on rereading my sentence was nearly incomprehensible so I wanted to clarify.
posted by jeather at 7:58 AM on January 16, 2015


Hey y'all, I found that comic from my comment!

Starfire.

Turns out I was 10 when it came out, so a little older than I thought, and it actually ran for 8 whole issues before being cancelled, though I know they only carried up to the third one in our little comics section.

Blowing my mind even more, it was a D.C. Series, which I rarely read, being a huge Marvel fan, but I guess this one spoke to me because of the heroine. She is a mixed race, badass former slave trained in martial arts. Weirdly, I have trained with a katana like the one she uses in sword class. Pretty cool.

Also, check out the price on the cover--30 cents! Wow.
posted by misha at 8:58 AM on January 16, 2015


EC, I feel like I owe you five dollars.

Jeez, look at you, not even graciously being thankful for our accepting my five dollars!

Oh wait, you have to actually give the thing, not just say you feel like it's owed. Again, I don't see an apology in the linked piece.
posted by Dysk at 10:03 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]




Sure, but he was still kind of jumping up and down and shouting "look at me, look at me" for having done the barest thing. I mean, he wrote the article right?

It's the internet. People write shit all the time, for all sorts of reasons, so what's your point, other than you know what he's really thinking?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:44 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


he might've even been prepared and gone to a comic book store that isn't 100% shitty and might at least have a manga section,

Maybe this is a case of me not knowing what particular manga is being referred to here, but is there a perception it's generally better than mainstream comics for these problems? Because holy shit is there some terrible stuff in manga
posted by Hoopo at 10:51 AM on January 16, 2015


I didn't read mainstream superhero comics for the last, like, thirty years or so, and just got a bunch of them last year. And I'm amazed at how stripperiffic all the women's costumes and poses are all of a sudden. When did this happen? Is it all Liefield's fault?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:10 AM on January 16, 2015


Some manga is better, especially stuff that's kid-targeted, and there are a lot more heroines around than in superhero stuff. There's a lot of weird sexualization, though, so it's good to screen (or at least skim) first, since target age isn't always obvious.
posted by NoraReed at 11:12 AM on January 16, 2015


Also, Brian Michael Bendis' Takio is awesome, and girl-friendly.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:13 AM on January 16, 2015


but is there a perception it's generally better than mainstream comics for these problems? Because holy shit is there some terrible stuff in manga

Yeah, but there is a whole bunch of genres that are made (mostly) by women for women of different ages and thematics.

Sports shoujo manga? Sure. Paranormal romance/ horror with a slashable cast? I was reading Tokyo Babylon 20 years before they released Supernatural and X or Yami no Matsuei 15 years ago (now the hotness is stuff like Kuroshitsuji). Action adventure? We got that, too. Manga about regular humans with normal-ish lives? Yup.

Shoujo manga comedy about shoujo manga tropes? You bet. And so on.
posted by sukeban at 11:13 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Dysk, we hear what you're saying, but do you have to take such an obnoxious tone about it? We're all friends here.
posted by Sara C. at 11:15 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


And I'm amazed at how stripperiffic all the women's costumes and poses are all of a sudden. When did this happen?

I had the same reaction that the author's daughter did when transitioning from the X-Men cartoon to actual X-Men comics in the early 90s, so, it's been around for at least 20 years.
posted by Sara C. at 11:16 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was never into comics (as a girlchild I got the "this is SO not for you" message loud and clear) but I'm super excited to check out some of the recommendations in this thread to see whether the form - minus the squickiness - is something I'd like. So, thanks!

I'm hesitant to share this next thought, because I know that there's a huge chorus of "you're doing it wrong!" aimed at parents and I really don't want to add to that, but: It would be awesome if parents could encourage their boy children to read the girl-positive comics too. (I'm sure some of you parents are already doing that, and that's awesome! And probably some of you are not, and I don't mean this as a criticism, just something to consider if you haven't already.)
posted by heisenberg at 11:32 AM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


but is there a perception it's generally better than mainstream comics for these problems? Because holy shit is there some terrible stuff in manga.

Based on my admittedly limited contact with the genre in the form of binge watching anime's based on manga on Netflix and reading A Drifting Life it seems like there's manga and anime available for everyone's tastes. It's not as much a gendered interest, or rather specific lines or series will be gendered. And since I'm generally of the belief that anyone should be able to make art that says whatever they want even to the point of giving offense and other artists should answer it with their own art or art criticism and that's how this should work, a wide-ranging market with something for everyone seems like a good system. If everything is niche then nothing is mainstream.
posted by edbles at 11:32 AM on January 16, 2015


I'm amazed at how stripperiffic all the women's costumes and poses are all of a sudden. When did this happen?

I'd trace it back to the eighties and the rise of the Direct Market. Specialized comic shops (as opposed to spinny racks at newstands and such) didn't care about the Comics Code, and independent publishers took advantage of that. The mainstream publishers responded by pushing things Sexier and Grimdarker.

Things have actually started to improve somewhat. Ms. Marvel, Batgirl, and Squirrel Girl are sporting outfits that look more like clothing than paint jobs.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:41 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sara C., I get what you're saying about asking folks to cool off, but making a literal tone argument to Dysk is something I'd recommend staying away from. Maybe a MeMail would be better? Or flagging it and moving on?
posted by kalessin at 11:46 AM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


As a fellow feminist, I'll make all the "tone arguments" I want. The general vibe against tone arguments within feminist discussion isn't a hard and fast rule that you can't ever ask people to take it down a notch. Dysk's attitude in the thread is completely uncalled for. (Also there's no flag for "fighty, much?!")
posted by Sara C. at 12:14 PM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


[You folks surely know how meta this has gotten; please drop it or reroute accordingly at this point.]
posted by cortex at 12:15 PM on January 16, 2015


So.... have you seen the new Power Girl?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:19 PM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't understand how one gets that bellybutton indentation unless one's clothes are actually paint. Or are vacuum sealed.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:10 PM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


My favorite moment in the current Ms. Marvel series is when Kamala Khan says she wants to look just like Carol Danvers as Ms. Marvel. Whereupon she is transformed into that body and outfit and discovers it is basically the worst. She borrows a sweatshirt from a homeless guy so she can even feel comfortable getting home after her first big superheroic feat.
posted by Sara C. at 1:18 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I kinda want to start getting into comics now. I must admit, the boobies have been a turn-off for me. I didn't know they had been, but I did always have this feeling, about comic stores being "dirty places".

I like funny stuff too. So I'll drop into our local store next time I'm in town. See what I really think about comics!
posted by ipsative at 1:24 PM on January 16, 2015


I kinda want to start getting into comics now. I must admit, the boobies have been a turn-off for me. I didn't know they had been, but I did always have this feeling, about comic stores being "dirty places".

Oh also I feel like Barnes & Nobles graphic novel and manga collection has been fairly wide in most of the locations I've gone, if people are in towns with super unfriendly comics shops. I think it’s one of the ways they’re attempting to stay afloat in the age of the digital content. That and board games.
posted by edbles at 1:38 PM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Nthing that you might want to start in a bookstore. Not to put you off comic shops -- there are lots of good ones out there, and it's great to support small businesses -- but as someone just really getting into superhero comics in the last year or so, and coming to it from graphic novels and an interest in illustration, at first I found bookstore Graphic Novel sections to be much easier to navigate.

Literally, in a lot of cases, since even now (and I mean jeez I WORK FOR MARVEL!), I have only the vaguest notion of how the superhero comics in a comic shop are organized. I assumed it would be like a bookshop or maybe a video store, but seriously a lot of comic shops have zero rhyme or reason for where a particular book even is. But if you go to a bookstore, the graphic novel section will be organized like other books in the store. Making it a lot easier to find something specific.

Also, a lot of bookstores will specialize more in trade paperbacks, which are a much more comprehensible and satisfying way to start reading superhero comics than picking up single issues.
posted by Sara C. at 1:49 PM on January 16, 2015


I LOVE that Power Girl! (Esp the hair.) Here's another pic of her, apparently off of a cover. I got it from the comments on the one ChurchHatesTucker linked to. It has less belly button.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:56 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


And less leg.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:11 PM on January 16, 2015


My favorite moment in the current Ms. Marvel series is when Kamala Khan says she wants to look just like Carol Danvers as Ms. Marvel. Whereupon she is transformed into that body and outfit and discovers it is basically the worst.

Anyone interested can see some of that at scans daily.
posted by homunculus at 2:30 PM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have only the vaguest notion of how the superhero comics in a comic shop are organized.

It varies by shop, but in general: New titles (a month to three old) are displayed in open racks. There's usually a vague organization by title or publisher, but stuff tends to go where it fits (think newsstands.) Back issues are in long boxes (those white cardboard boxes.) Those are in alphabetical order by title, very often first divided by publisher. Trades are usually organized the same way, but in bookcases (if they're new releases they may be displayed with the new titles.)

Also, a lot of bookstores will specialize more in trade paperbacks, which are a much more comprehensible and satisfying way to start reading superhero comics than picking up single issues.

Absolutely. Recent comics especially are written with the expectation that they are bound for roughly six issue collections, so this is a good way to get a story arc relatively cheaply.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:40 PM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


As someone who wasn't into comics as a kid, but who loved B:TAS & the early 90s X-Men cartoon, liked the Elfman Batman movies, and is enjoying the recent Marvel stuff, I heartily endorse Ms Marvel. Like, it was the first comic I ever bought, at age 39, and now I have all of them so far.
posted by epersonae at 2:46 PM on January 16, 2015


Yeah, it occurred to me while I was writing that comment that the reason comic shops aren't organized like bookshops or video stores is that, in an evolutionary sense, they're much more closely related to newsstands. People who shop there largely know what they want, and (traditionally) there aren't that many different releases.

But every time I go to my preferred comic shop (Secret Headquarters in Silverlake, Los Angeles, if we're recommending places), I do kind of want to alphabetize the new titles rack.

My L.A. comic shop recommendations, for ladies, kids, newbies, or really anyone:

- Secret Headquarters (Silverlake) and their sister store Thank You (Highland Park). Great mix of mainstream superhero, all ages, manga, indie, and artsy stuff. I think they even still have a zine rack. Very woman-friendly in the overall vibe and you'll never run into the "Hello Kitty and Monster High" problem there.

- Meltdown Comics (Hollywood). More of a traditional macho vibe, but it's also more of a classic comic shop, which is fun. And they definitely have all the usual non-gross suspects. But, yeah, the staff is male and sometimes not clued into what a 7 year old girl is going to want. Overall the selection is super great, too. And they have a children's section, which makes life easier.

- Skylight Books (Los Feliz). Yes, this is a bookstore, but see above about why I think shopping for comics at bookstores is a great idea. They tend to skew graphic novel and artsy, but the comic selection is fantastic. When Secret Headquarters is sold out of the trade paperback I want, I go to Skylight. The guy who works on the art book/media/comics side really knows his stuff, too. And the atmosphere isn't bro-ish at all.
posted by Sara C. at 2:59 PM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Not to derail from the comics talk—which I am absolutely loving, so please continue!—but I've been thinking a little bit more about what I'd want out of the Blizzard characters. After all, it's way easier to say "meh" than it is to create a design that works.

I think for fighters, I'd like to see something closer to Samantha Sword's custom armor, which is both fully functional and totally badass. And for mages, I'd probably look toward designs by Alexander McQueen, which manage to be fantastical and frightening and feminine without the addition of prominent, J-cup bazongas.

posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:49 PM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


The current runs of Hawkeye and Black Widow are really great, though not really what I'd recommend to kids. The art in Widow is absolutely amazing. Also they have pets (or pets have them), which is important to me
posted by NoraReed at 3:50 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not to derail from the comics talk—which I am absolutely loving, so please continue!—but I've been thinking a little bit more about what I'd want out of the Blizzard characters. After all, it's way easier to say "meh" than it is to create a design that works.

Slightly continuing the derail, I am sort of hopeful that Brienne of Tarth will be a useful design reference point for ass-kicking warrior types.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:54 PM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


> it just seems like some people rarely think outside the bubble of their own experience.

FTFY.

It's easy to see a problem when it's hitting you in the face. It's less obvious when it's not. Men aren't the only ones with this problem.

I had a bunch of other comments marked, but I'm not into comics and in the end all I have to say is: "Dave" took a baby step. It may not impress those who are already walking, but it's a BFD for the baby. You don't have to fawn on baby Dave, but if you want him to ever walk then it makes more sense to encourage him to take another step than to slap him upside the head because he isn't running yet.

Good FPP.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 6:37 PM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Perfect. Good.

Shake hands and come out fighting.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:18 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


As far as armor, there's a great scene in Princeless where Adrienne goes to an armorer and... well, just read it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:35 PM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


> I have honestly never left that store without spending twice what I told myself I would spend, so sold indeed

I, uh, spent three times what I'd planned on spending. What a great store. And I finally got around to reading Lumberjanes (except for the two issues they didn't have in stock) and it's so freaking good -- and my eight-year-old daughter liked it, too.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:40 PM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Comics Dungeon is great, I should get over there more.

FWIW my recommendations for 8 year olds would be My Little Pony, Adventure Time, Lumberjanes, Princeless, Zita the Space Girl, and if you can dig it up and think they'll like capes Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade.

I see a lot of this is covered. :-)

They are a bit beyond her current individual reading level but the kiddo adores the P Craig Russel adaptations of Coraline and Graveyard Book. She's also really into Gotham Academy.
posted by Artw at 9:05 PM on January 18, 2015


All-Ages Week: The 2015 Parent Survey Results and Responses - I participated in this and they quote me a bunch, but the rest is very interesting too.

There's more kids comics out there right now and of higher quality than there has been for years, so the situation is pretty far from gloomy, on the other hand articles like the one in this FPP really underline how the direct market (and the industry revolving around it) have some real problems that can obscure that fact.
posted by Artw at 9:10 PM on January 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


By the way, evidenceofabsence, thanks for that link to Ava's Demon. I'd never seen it before and I'm really enjoying it!
posted by brookedel at 10:10 PM on January 18, 2015




Oh, forgot to mention, I'm currently reading Monster on the Hill to my girls (ages 4, 9). While there are no major female characters yet, it is a charmingly written and illustrated little story so far. The 4-year-old picked it out.
posted by Mister_A at 7:27 AM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]




And, to square the circle, if memory serves The Pirates of Pangaea was serialized in The Phoenix...
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:44 AM on January 26, 2015




And we should have a Wonder Woman movie, but that's a whole 'nother thing.

Here's something to watch while we wait.
posted by homunculus at 4:40 PM on January 31, 2015


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